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A ray of Arab-Israeli hope and other commentary – New York Post

Foreign desk: An Arab-Israeli Ray of Hope

Thirty prominent public figures from 15 Arab countries, some facing serious personal security issues, gathered in London last week to repudiate the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel and demand their nations establish direct civil relations with the Jewish state, reports Jenni Frazer at the Jewish Journal. Attendees included Mohammed Anwar Sadat, a member of the Egyptian Parliament and a nephew of former President Anwar Sadat; former Kuwaiti Minister of Information Sami Abdul-Latif Al-Nisf; as well as other religious and political notables. The group recounted personal stories about good relations with Jews and deplored terrorism, brainwashing kids against Israel and politicizing Islam. Former US diplomat Dennis Ross called the participants courageous and a ray of hope. And while no government was officially involved, the views expressed are bound to resonate throughout the Middle East.

2020 watch: Ivy League Folly Is How Trump Wins

Saturdays Yale-Harvard football game was delayed for about an hour because of students protesting climate change on the field at the end of halftime, Mediaites John Ziegler fumes and it was just the kind of extreme political correctness that will get President Trump re-elected come next year. The protesters deliberately timed their action to waste maximum time and gain maximum media attention. Instead of cracking down, however, officials at Yale, where the game was held, treated the radicals with kid gloves, the kind their spoiled, affluent cohort has come to fully expect. And while voters wont remember this particular debacle when they step into the booth next year, Trumps political rocket ship is fueled by the extremely negative reaction Middle America has to political correctness. All the brilliant Yalies did was add a bit more gas to his tank.

City desk: Prohibit Parking To Save Space

While critics bemoan any change to street parking in New York City, Connor Harris argues in City Journal that the systems familiarity blinds residents to the fact that todays system is inefficient, anti-free-market and unfair. For example, the city could install hygienic municipal dumpsters on reallocated parking spots, preventing garbage from piling up on trash-collection days, or convert spots to bus lanes and loading zones. Also, cheap street parking exists by government fiat: Letting the free market decide what to do with a space could raise its price or convert it to more productive uses. Fact is, even without street parking, New Yorks drivers could easily afford the true cost of driving and non-drivers would be better off.

Culture critic: Dolly Doesnt Need Times Lectures

A recent New York Times profile of Dolly Parton sneered at the country-music legends supposed failure to make the slightest hint of a political statement which should win the paper some sort of prize for statements that are best at missing what is in plain sight, snarks the Walter Olson at Cato. Partons positive persona and enormous charitable contributions make a perfectly legitimate political statement, as one Twitter correspondent told Olson. Besides, Olson notes, shes written plenty of songs about poverty, about the thing between men and women and about responding to bad treatment with forgiveness and magnanimity. Or as another tweeter put it: Dolly Partons life is a political statement for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Brexit watch: A Collapsing Remain

Party loyalty has blurred in Britain since the Brexit referendum, The Spectators James Forsyth reports, but feelings about the referendum are almost stronger than they were on June 23, 2016, the day of the original vote, with pro-Leave and pro-Remain the strongest political forces in Britain. Remainers, however, have been unable to unite behind any one party or leader, and that lack of cohesion has proved fatal. Most damaging: Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is determined to maintain ambiguity in Labours Brexit position, limiting a Remain alliance to minor parties. Unless Remainers can turn things around in the next three weeks, their cause will be lost.

Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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A ray of Arab-Israeli hope and other commentary - New York Post

Churro vendor controversy: Separating The Facts From The Political Correctness – Pressenza, International Press Agency

By Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.

As you have no doubt seen and heard, two recent arrests of immigrant women vending churros (a long donut like pastry) has resulted in a huge controversy. Ive linked 3 of the many articles on this below my personal comments.

The media and elected officials have feigned outrage over the 2 arrests and they are linking the arrests to 2 new proposed vending laws which, if passed, will forever change NYC vending for the worse. The 2 arrests are being used as proof that all the vending laws need to be radically changed. Need I mention that the Street Vendor Project, a City Council funded front group that has spent years trying to eliminate the rights of street artists, helped write these 2 proposed laws and is using all of its resources to get them passed? The City Council bill was cooked up by by a giant food vending corporation [MOVE SYSTEMS] funded by Wall St billionaires, the Street Vendor Project and a corrupt City Council Speaker with direct ties to the food company. [for details see: https://www.facebook.com/stopintro1303/ ]

Suddenly, both the media and the elected officials are pretending that vendor arrests are either unknown or rarely happen and they are further pretending that this was some kind of racist attack by the NYPD on Hispanic vendors.

The reality is that all vendors experience some degree of harassment. There are thousands of vendors arrested in NYC each year and tens of thousands summonsed. These women had many previous summonses for vending in the subway and simply refused to stop doing it. These were legitimate police actions not harassment.

One can feel sympathy for anyone being arrested or summonsed while at the same time recognize that there are vending laws for a reason. Food vending laws are, to my thinking, the most reasonable vending laws.

These 2 women were unlicensed, had no food vending permit, a completely illegal cart and were vending in the subway, which is illegal for all vendors regardless of what they sell. If there is any type of vending that actually needs to be closely regulated, it is food vending.

A single food vendor with a communicable disease, a dirty cart or who mishandles food, can create an epidemic. Thats why food carts require a vending license, a food cart permit and a certification in proper food handling. They dont want food vending in the subway because NYC subways already have a huge rat problem and food vending will make it much worse. Imagine trying to get into a subway car or out onto a rush hour subway platform that is crammed with food carts.

For most of my life I worked as an illegal vendor. I am not opposed to anyone getting a vending license; but I am opposed to fake vending reform that pretends to be about helping poor vendors but is actually about helping the biggest and wealthiest food vending corporations.

The 2 proposed laws are a scam. They want to completely eliminate any cap on how many food vendors there can be and make getting the license and permit very easy. Sounds good right?

But theres a catch.

A legal food cart has to have hot and cold running water. They cost anywhere from 5 to 50 thousand dollars. The cart and the food has to be stored in an authorized commissary, which would cost many thousands more. And, they still wont be able to vend in the subway, let alone vend from a cardboard box on top of a shopping cart.

Whats more, these proposed laws provide that a vendor getting 4 summonses loses their license; the City Council bill puts all vending decisions into the hands of the BIDs; and the State law gives cities and parks the right to create any new limits on vending they like.

Whats the real agenda behind these 2 proposed laws? Is it about helping poor immigrant vendors?

Apart from scoring points for political correctness, its about helping giant food corporations take over all vending. A food vending company can only own 1 food vending permit. By increasing the number of permits out there (removing the cap) these food vending corporations can temporarily buy up thousands of permits from the vendors who obtain them, exactly as they do now with a huge black market in food vending permits.

Once the streets are completely overrun with thousands of new food vendors, the City will have no choice but to create a concession system, exactly as exists throughout NYC Parks, where 2 or 3 companies own every food cart and stand. Immigrant employees paid less than minimum wage run these stands. Thats the wonderful future the elected officials are setting up for the vendors they are pretending to help.

When you see these hypocrite elected officials posing as champions of the vendors, dont forget that it is these exact same pols who wrote the vending laws and who mercilessly pressure the police to enforce them.

The very same media outlets pretending to be outraged about these arrests, such as the NY Times, have spent decades demanding crackdowns on vending. In fact, the NY Times started the Times Sq BID, one of the most anti-vending organizations in NYC.

One might ask, how is this different from the City arresting artists in the hundreds from 1993-2001? Didnt we protest hundreds of times? didnt we try to change the vending laws?

The difference is that artists were already considered to be First Amendment protected by the NY District Attorney as early as 1993. Every one of those arrests were illegal and unconstitutional. There is no Constitutional right to vend food in the subway. Moreover, we changed the vending laws in such a way as to help all vendors.

In fact, under the rights we won, immigrant vendors can legally sell books, art, cds, dvds and other First Amendment related materials without any license or permit.

These proposed bills are poison to every form of vending.

Please stop exploiting immigrants to make yourselves appear to be enlightened public servants. You are fooling no one.

NY Times: Handcuffed for Selling Churros: Inside the World of Illegal Food Vendors

Daily News: Cries for justice on the subways as NYPDs crackdown on Brooklyn churro vendors brings a second arrest

[NOTE: The writer has vended in NYC since 1962 as both a street artist and a food vendor]

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Churro vendor controversy: Separating The Facts From The Political Correctness - Pressenza, International Press Agency

Trump Tells Allies He Wants Absolved War Criminals to Campaign for Him – The Daily Beast

If Donald Trump gets his wish, hell soon take the three convicted or accused war criminals he spared from consequence on the road as special guests in his reelection campaign, according to two sources who have heard Trump discuss their potential roles for the 2020 effort.

Despite military and international backlash to Trumps Nov. 15 clemency fallout from which cost Navy Secretary Richard Spencer his job on Sunday Trump believes he has rectified major injustices. Two people tell The Daily Beast theyve heard Trump talk about how hed like to have the now-cleared Clint Lorance, Matthew Golsteyn, or Edward Gallagher show up at his 2020 rallies, or even have a moment on stage at his renomination convention in Charlotte next year. Right-wing media has portrayed all three as martyrs brought down by political correctness within the military.

He briefly discussed making it a big deal at the convention, said one of these sources, who requested anonymity to talk about private conversations. The president made a reference to the 2016 [convention] and where they brought on-stage heroes like former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who refused to execute detained civilians ahead of a devastating Taliban attack.

Former Army Lt. Lorance was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2013 for murder after ordering his soldiers in 2010 to fire on three unarmed Afghan men riding a motorcycle, killing two of them. He walked out of military prison at Fort Leavenworth on Nov. 15. Next month, former Green Beret Maj. Golsteyn was supposed to stand trial for the murder of an unarmed Afghan man whom he told the CIA he killed in the belief the man was a Taliban bombmaker. Golsteyn, who allegedly burned the mans corpse, pleaded not guilty to the murder; the Green Berets stripped Golsteyn of his Special Forces tab. Lorance and Golsteyn were both causes clbre in certain military circles and among their right-wing supporters, as was Navy SEAL Chief Gallagher.

A military jury this summer acquitted Gallagher for the murder of a wounded teenage fighter for the so-called Islamic State. The case, which both featured Trumps conspicuous intervention boosting Gallagher and serious prosecutorial misconduct, began, like Lorances, with Gallaghers own platoonmates reporting his conduct. Against Gallaghers denial, two SEALs testified seeing the senior SEAL chief stab the wounded teenager in the neck. Gallagher, along with lower-ranking SEALs, took a photo with the corpse and texted it with the caption good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife. But another SEAL reversed his testimony to say that he, not Gallagher, killed the wounded teenager by closing off an inserted breathing tube. Gallaghers only conviction was for taking the photo and he was released for time served. Trump pardoned Lorance and Golsteyn and reversed Gallaghers demotion in rank.

Opposition to the clemency was reportedly ardent in the senior ranks of the Pentagon and the uniformed military. The Navy opted to proceed with an internal review over stripping Gallagher of his Trident pin, which symbolizes his place in the elite commando ranks. Trump, via tweet, insisted that the Trident board not happen, and publicly clashed with Spencer, his Navy secretary, who took the position that the board ought to proceed despite Trumps tweets.

Yet late on Sunday afternoon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that Spencer had made a secret entreaty to Trump that would have rendered the board for show and ensured Gallagher retired at full SEAL rank and pension. Espers account was in such stark opposition to Spencers positions in the case that several in military circles, while acknowledging the murkiness around the entire episode, consider it to be untrue. A Navy Reserve officer who requested anonymity doubted that a true account would emerge from the administration, but said the current messy narrative is not credible.

Esper, in a statement, said he was deeply troubled by Spencer allegedly routing around the defense secretary to take a position the Pentagon conceded was contrary to Spencers public position. That line holds Spencer was fired despite secretly agreeing with Trump on Gallaghers disposition. And Esper also confirmed he will do the exact thing that Trump and, allegedly, Spencer, sought: permitting Gallagher to retire as a Navy chief, and a SEAL. Esper, astonishingly, told reporters Monday that Trump had ordered the defense secretary to ensure Gallagher keeps his Trident, rendering moot the Navys Trident board proceeding.

In irreconcilable contrast to that account, Spencer said in a scorching resignation letter that Trump had jeopardized the rule of law within the military and he could not in good conscience carry out Trumps order to the Navy on Gallagher.

The Constitution, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, are the shields that set us apart, and the beacons that protect us all, Spencer wrote. Unfortunately it has become apparent in this respect that I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline.

Robert Work, a former deputy defense secretary in the Obama and Trump administrations with deep ties to the Navy, said that while he had no first-hand knowledge of the debacle, he believed Spencer.

I take Spencers resignation letter as the truth, Work told The Daily Beast. Its one of those things where well never know the real truth. He continued: I think Spencer just felt he had to do this. Its extremely unfortunate.

Eugene Fidell of Yale Law School, one of the foremost experts in U.S. military justice, cautioned that what exactly occurred remains unclear. But Fidell said it had already done enormous damage to the Navys fidelity to the law.

Esper has committed the very offense he has accused Spencer of having committed, though in Espers telling, it happened behind [Espers] back, Fidell said. If Spencer did this, Spencer is in the wrong. Esper doing this makes Esper in the wrong. Either way, its a body blow to the rule of law in the Department of the Navy.

Esper received a political boost from the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Inhofe (R-OK), who had clashed with Spencer on other issues. Both Secretary Esper and President Trump deserve to have a leadership team who has their trust and confidence, Inhofe said in a statement.

But in the Democratic-controlled House, the vice chairman of the armed-services committee, Maryland Democrat Anthony Brown, an Iraq veteran, came to Spencers defense. It is a dark day when the president stands with those accused of committing war crimes over a man like Secretary Spencer, Brown said in a statement.

Neither the White House nor Trump campaign spokespeople responded to requests for comment as of press time.

While the war-crimes pardons were not Trumps first in May, he granted clemency to convicted murderer Michael Behenna, an Army lieutenant who in 2008 killed an unarmed, naked Iraqi man during an unauthorized interrogation Trump had fought the Pentagon for more than half a year for the pardons. Promoting them was Pete Hegseth, an Iraq War veteran and a Fox & Friends co-host who had aggressively and personally lobbied Trump since at least March to take such action.

In fact, Lorance, just days after receiving his pardon, appeared on Hegseths Fox News show and effusively lauded Trump, saying, I love you, sir, and telling the president, you are awesome! Days before Spencers firing, Lorance also said on the Fox program that President Trump needed a better team around him, as well as more people watching your back. Gallagher, in a statement tweeted by Hegseth, called Trump a true leader and exactly what the military needs.

Gallaghers attorney Tim Parlatore told The Daily Beast on Monday afternoon that shortly after President Trump called his client to inform him that the rank reinstatement was coming, Gallagher held a conference call with members of his family and Parlatore, to inform them of the news. The lawyer said he then joked on the phone call, Theres no quid pro quo? He didnt ask you to investigate the Bidens?

Gallagher then laughed and replied, No, he just gave it to me! Parlatore recalled, adding that since that phone call, no quid pro quoa clear reference to the impeachment inquiry bedeviling the Trump presidencyhas become a little inside joke between Gallagher and Parlatore.

Yet even Trump allies believe that absolving convicted or accused war criminals of their actions consequences has done substantial damage to the military.

I think more often than not when something like this happens in the administration, a lot of people hyperbolically state that this is undermining our institutions or destroying our democracy, said one ally of the Trump administration who works on military issues. Most of the time it is over-the-top nonsense, but not in this case. This whole thing is a mess and it will undermine good order and discipline in the SEAL community when it is badly needed after a string of incidents involving severe misconduct.

This person added, Pete Hegseth, as a field-grade Army officer, should know what he is doing is wrong, but either doesnt understand the negative repercussions this will have for officers and senior [non-commissioned officers] trying to maintain good order and discipline in their units, or doesnt care. Its shameful and this is truly a black mark on the Trump administrations national-security record.

Editors note: This story has been updated to correct the nature of the photo of Gallagher and the corpse.

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Trump Tells Allies He Wants Absolved War Criminals to Campaign for Him - The Daily Beast

The move to cancel Gauguin could kill off Western culture – New York Post

At a current Paul Gauguin exhibition at Londons National Gallery, visitors are warned that the famous French painter had sexual relationships with young girls, including two with whom he fathered children.

A wall text notes, Gauguin undoubtedly exploited his position as a privileged Westerner [in French Polynesia] to make the most of the sexual freedoms available to him.

An audio guide even raises the question, Is it time to stop looking at Gauguin altogether?

This is what art appreciation has come to: a PC prism through which a painting, a work of literature or even a popular song must be scrutinized for racism, sexism, gender bias or just plain hurt feelings.

New York museums havent banned anything yet. But look out: Metropolitan Museum of Art director Max Hollein told The New York Times that, Art cannot solely be perceived in regard to its beauty and craftsmanship. You also have to evaluate it in light of its political messages.

If you say so, chief. I thought most human beings turned to art not for ideological hectoring but for the joy of beauty and insight into the human condition whether from Dante, Shakespeare or Springsteen.

The warnings against Gauguin are another step toward excommunicating every Western creative talent from the realm of permissible enjoyment. If left unopposed, the PC fascists will inevitably ban everything by Western-world artists, writers and musicians due to perceived sensitivities or colonialist violations.

Why stop with Gauguin? Another revered European painter, Caravaggio, was a murderer, a pimp and a sex abuser of children. His Victorious Cupid and St. John the Baptist depict a naked young boy with whom Caravaggio is believed to have been having sex, according to Guardian critic Emine Saner.

By any consistent standard of political correctness, Shakespeares got to go. While he was no pedophile, his play The Taming of the Shrew celebrates misogyny. Othello is full of racist tropes. Shylock in The Merchant of Venice betrays a deeply anti-Semitic spirit.

By that token, Vladimir Nabokov should be exiled to Siberia for Lolita. Though its widely recognized as one of the 20th centurys greatest novels, his character Lolita is 12 years old when narrator Humbert Humbert falls for her. He beds and ultimately loses her to a romantic rival, whom Humbert enthusiastically bumps off. Burn the book and ban the movie adaptations!

Mark Twains masterpiece Huckleberry Finn has barely survived the onslaught of racism charges. Its been dropped from some campus reading lists over a character whose nickname is the N-word. Shouldnt Twain, who wrote the novel as an anti-racism saga more than 120 years ago, have predicted that the slur widely used by whites in the pre-Civil War South would be deemed impermissible in a work of fiction in the 21st Century?

If Huck Finn needs condemnation, so do the poems of Walt Whitman, who referred to black people as baboons. Or the novels of Joseph Conrad, whose racism was implicit in the African fable Heart of Darkness.

Im overreacting, right? Well, last year, Kate Smith was dropped from the Yankee Stadium soundtrack for having once, at 24, sung a racist tune at her record companys behest at a time when segregation was the law of the land in many states. More recently, a few busybodies changed the teasing lyrics to Baby Its Cold Outside lest the original be misconstrued as a lead-up to rape. (Of course, rap artists who celebrate actual sexual subjugation of women see 50 Cents P.I.M.P. get a free pass.)

If the PC purity test continues to rule, well be left with empty bookshelves and bare-wall galleries. Art may survive only if its twisted to politically correct ends like the Broadway staging of Oklahoma! thats so warped from the original, its been ridiculed as Wokelahoma.

Its time for some brave pushback to arrest the slide or woke me when its over.

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The move to cancel Gauguin could kill off Western culture - New York Post

Jay Roach vs Todd Phillips on Whether ‘Woke Culture’ Is Killing Comedy Movies – TheWrap

Everyone is too touchy, Phillips, the director of Joker, tells me but Bombshell filmmaker Roach feels otherwise

I have been obsessing lately over the decline of big-screen comedies and the fact that some of the leading comedy directors of our time have turned serious in recent years, from Hangover creator Todd Phillips with his dark global hit Joker to Jay Roach, going from Austin Powers to Game Change and now Bombshell.

This fall, Joker has powered its way to $1 billion at the global box office, the benchmark usually set by superhero sagas rather than social commentary, while the mid-December release of Bombshell takes on sexual harassment at Fox News. Neither film is funny, and both are ambitious swings by two top directors.

I raised the issue with each of them in recent interviews. Phillips has been quoted saying that woke culture, a hypersensitive and reactive political correctness, has driven people like him from the comedy genre. He went deeper on this with me. Everyone is too touchy, Phillips told me. Everyone is so effing touchy.

Roach had a different perspective. He called on the studios to loosen their purse strings, to fund comedies at the levels of years past so artists like him can find the excitement in ambitious comedy again. He said the studios are to blame for putting comedies into a death spiral.

Also Read: Director Todd Phillips on Making 'Joker': Art Is 'Meant to Be Complicated'

Jay Roach (Photo by Corina Marie Howell for TheWrap)

Both views are a study in a changed landscape in Hollywood. Comedies from Stuber to Holmes and Watson have faltered at the box office in the last year, leading to both hand-wringing and theories about why this is the case.

When I asked Phillips why some of my favorite comedy directors including Roach and Adam McKay (Anchorman, The Big Short) are turning to more serious-minded material, he told me, somewhat aggressively: Do you want me to tell you why it is? Comedy is based in truth. Truth has become offensive. You get crippled trying to do comedy if truth is offensive. I can think of 10 jokes from the nine studio comedies Ive made that would cause an issue on Twitter nowadays.

Then he cited Dave Chappelles latest stand-up special, released on Netflix in August to almost immediate outcry over jokes about transgender people as well as abuse allegations against Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. Dave might have done the most brilliant hour of stand-up called Sticks & Stones. Its literally called Sticks & Stones think about it, Phillips said. Hes getting this whole thing where the far left sounds like the far right when it fits their agenda.

In making Joker, Phillips said, I was like, OK, let me go over here and play in this sandbox a little bit. Maybe with Jay and Adam, its politics. Maybe its me with messing around with comic book movies, messing up that sandbox. Im not speaking for Jay and Adam, but for me the things people like about The Hangover the outrageousness or the things people like about Old School the irreverence is based in truth. If truth is now offensive, which it seems to be, lets just put that aside for a minute.

Also Read: 10 Comedy Directors Who Went Serious, From Jay Roach to Todd Phillips (Photos)

Todd Phillips with Joaquin Phoenix on the set of Joker (Warner Bros.)

When I spoke to Roach earlier this month, he disagreed with Phillips. Its not political correctness thats killed big-screen comedy, Roach said, its the studios business model.

I do wonder whats happened to the studios ability to rally the right people, get the right scripts and make comedies, he said. And one of the things that I have noticed is that theres been a tremendous trend, its kind of a self-perpetuating spiral downwards in budget on comedies: They dont do quite so well, then you make them come in for less, then they do less well.

The result, said Roach, is a vicious cycle. It takes money and time and room for actors to try things and experiment and fail and fail again, and fail again and then you succeed, he said. The studios feel like well just keep making them for lower money and that reduces the risk. But Ive found, in the comedies I made because we had 50 days, or 55 days of shooting, the actors could try things and we would cut at a three-hour movie and just use the best half of it. Now you only get to shoot an hour-and-a-half movie.

So how do you make a successful movie comedy? You get really funny people and hire possibly expensive actors to come in and do their best work and give them a ton of time to do it and then let them go for some spectacle, he said. I remember when Something About Mary came out, it was around the time that our Austin films came out, I was like, Oh, my God, Im so happy they did this and that it made a lot of money because it meant we could keep doing that.

Also Read: A 'Bombshell,' 'Parasite' and Brutality Are Shaking Up the Oscar Race

Roach admitted that the current state of the U.S. is driving him to focus on politics. I dont have anything against going back and doing comedy. Im just for some reason driven, just freakin driven, to understand whats going on in our world, he said. And these films are what make me work twice, three times as hard as I might on something else. (That said, he added, If I had a great comedy script right now and it had great characters and was about something, I would be so quick to do it.)

While it might not be a shock that Phillips and Roach have matured into more sophisticated subjects, it is surprising that Hollywood has not found a new generation of comedic filmmakers to fill the void.

Phillips insisted that younger directors are finding other mediums. Theres many types of comedies, he said. Theres Austin Powers. Ill laugh at Austin Powers, but thats not my kind of comedy. My type of comedy has always been grounded in reality, and then make the situations absurd. I guess my point is its not a big of leap coming from Hangover or Old School to this (Joker), to me, as it appears for some other people.

So you think what youre doing is safer than comedy?, I asked Phillips. His reply: I did think it was safer than R-rated comedy at this moment.

He went on: I dont mean to be reductive, but these papers like TheWrap and Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Ive seen articles over the last few years of like, What happened to the R-rated comedy? Thats what it is. Everyone is too touchy. Everyone is so effing touchy.

While some filmmakers get their starts making cheaply made B-movies or horror films, there's a new crop of directors emerging who previously cut their teeth making classic comedies. And while most haven't abandoned their sense of humor entirely, they've finally been recognized at both the box office and awards circuit by veering into prestige pictures. The latest example is Todd Phillips, the director of "Joker," which as the darkly disturbed origin story of the iconic Batman villain is no laughing matter. Here are some other directors who have re-emerged as more than just funny men.

Jay Roach - Comedy Classic: "Austin Powers"/Dramatic Turn: "Trumbo"

Jay Roach helmed not one but two comedy franchises before turning into something of a political wonk and directing the TV movie "Recount" in 2008 about the infamous 2000 election debacle in Florida. He told Vulture that he always admired the directors who find the grey area between comedy and drama like Alexander Payne and Hal Ashby. "Movies that have so much pain and angst yet fully committed humor. Those are the kind of movies I grew up on."

Adam McKay - Comedy Classic: "Anchorman"/Dramatic Turn: "The Big Short"

Movies like "The Big Short" and "Vice" are rooted in comedy and satire because of McKay's intention to capture the absurdity and complexity of a crazy time in recent political and economic history. McKay said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine that he hopes his films capture that murky tone, and that he's not the only funny person suddenly wading into these waters. "Were living in a world with a tone that none of us has ever experienced. Pipe bombs are being sent to the leaders of a political party, and the guy who made Dilbert is saying, You know the bombs were really made by left-wingers because they didnt work, McKay said.

Tom Shadyac - Comedy Classic: "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective"/Dramatic Turn: "Brian Banks"

Despite being one of Hollywood's top comedy directors following Jim Carrey movies like "Ace Ventura," "Liar Liar" and "Bruce Almighty," Tom Shadyac found he couldn't get work in Hollywood after both the bomb of his 2007 film "Evan Almighty" and after he suffered a life threatening concussion in an accident. But he told the LA Times he found a new outlook on life and Hollywood in directing the story of "Brian Banks," a college football star wrongly convicted of a crime.

Todd Phillips - Comedy Classic: "The Hangover"/Dramatic Turn: "Joker"

Todd Philips told Vanity Fair in support of "Joker" that he's left comedy filmmaking entirely after feeling that "woke" culture drove his bro comedies like "Old School," "Road Trip" and most notably "The Hangover" films out of style. "Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture, Philips said. There were articles written about why comedies dont work anymoreIll tell you why, because all the f---ing funny guys are like, F--- this s---, because I dont want to offend you. Its hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just cant do it, right? So you just go, Im out."

Peter Farrelly - Comedy Classic: "Dumb and Dumber"/Dramatic Turn: "Green Book"

Yes, the guy who made "Dumb and Dumber" beat out "Roma" at the Oscars last year. And the tone between comedy and drama that director Peter Farrelly walks with "Green Book" helped his movie get made. Farrelly told Vulture he was able to pitch "Green Book" to studios based on the idea that a racial biopic is actually a buddy, road trip movie. And even though it deals with more dramatic fare, Farrelly still views his film as primarily lighter entertainment. Im sure there will be some criticism that [the film] is not authentic because its not dark enough, Farrelly told Newsweek, But thats not my style. Lighten upits only a movie, right?

Woody Allen - Comedy Classic: "Annie Hall"/Dramatic Turn: "Interiors"

Woody Allen found himself winning Oscars when he went beyond zany farces like "Sleeper" and "Love and Death" to telling more relatable stories like "Annie Hall" that blended comedy, drama and romance. But the prolific director would immediately follow up his Best Picture winner with a strictly dramatic take in the style of Ingmar Bergman films with his 1978 movie "Interiors." Movies like "Another Woman" and "Blue Jasmine" have further shown Allen stepping out of his comedic comfort zone.

Preston Sturges - Comedy Classic: "The Lady Eve"/Dramatic Turn: "Sullivan's Travels"

Preston Sturges, one of the signature directors of Old Hollywood, would likely still be admired today based solely on the success of his screwball comedies like "The Great McGinty" and "The Lady Eve." But he took a step up as an auteur with his 1941 more serious film "Sullivan's Travels." The film even breaks the fourth wall by telling an insider Hollywood story about a talented director who disguises himself as a hobo so he can learn about the true tragedies of the modern world for his next film, only to find he can't ever escape Hollywood and his pigeon-holed place in the business.

Ben Stiller - Comedy Classic: "Zoolander"/Dramatic Turn: "Escape at Dannemora"

In an interview with CBS News, Ben Stiller didn't fault anyone for not knowing what to expect when he took on the job of directing the prison break miniseries "Escape at Dannemora." In fact, Stiller was out of the country shooting "Zoolander 2" when the real life events of the series took place. While he's veered between more dramatic roles as an actor, he teased to CBS News that he might "possibly" be considering retirement from broad comedies altogether.

Paul Feig - Comedy Classic: "Bridesmaids"/Dramatic Turn: "A Simple Favor"

Paul Feig certainly has not strayed from making comedies, but he felt the urge to tackle a Hitchcockian thriller with just a dash of comedic elements with his film "A Simple Favor." In an interview with EW, he explained he's always tried to make genre films and finding the comedy within those tropes. "How do you walk that line where you can push the edge of the tone but you dont spill over out of it so that you take the audience out of it? So this was definitely the biggest tonal tightrope," Feig told EW.

David Dobkin - Comedy Classic: "Wedding Crashers"/Dramatic Turn: "The Judge"

Though music videos and comedies allowed Dobkin to break into the industry, he had been plotting a pivot to drama with the Robert Downey Jr. film "The Judge" as far back as 2006 and before he began production on "Fred Claus," according to an interview with HuffPost. However, his next film finds him squarely back in comedy with the Will Ferrell parody film "Eurovision."

Peter Farrelly, Adam McKay and Ben Stiller have all found awards love after turning to more dramatic movies

While some filmmakers get their starts making cheaply made B-movies or horror films, there's a new crop of directors emerging who previously cut their teeth making classic comedies. And while most haven't abandoned their sense of humor entirely, they've finally been recognized at both the box office and awards circuit by veering into prestige pictures. The latest example is Todd Phillips, the director of "Joker," which as the darkly disturbed origin story of the iconic Batman villain is no laughing matter. Here are some other directors who have re-emerged as more than just funny men.

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Jay Roach vs Todd Phillips on Whether 'Woke Culture' Is Killing Comedy Movies - TheWrap

Editorial: Remembering the 1898 coup in Wilmington, NC – News – Burlington Times News

For decades, much of Wilmington was in denial about what happened in the city on Nov. 10, 1898. Perhaps worse, it wasn't that long ago that many residents had not even heard of the Port City's coup d'etat.

We hope that the denial and lack of awareness of the coup are themselves becoming history. Earlier this month, the state of North Carolina unveiled a highway historical marker in front of the old Wilmington Light Infantry armory building at Fourth and Market streets, the site where an armed band of white supremacists gathered and then marched to destroy a black-owned newspaper.

A marker already stands to Alex Manly, the crusading African-American editor whose offices were torched. The new marker, however, nudges matters a few steps further. It refers to those shameful events not as a "riot" or "race riot," as earlier sources had, but as what it really was a coup that is generally considered the only successful overthrow of a government in U.S. history.

This is not just semantics or political correctness. This underlines bald, brutal fact.

A "race riot" implies that Wilmington's black residents were, if not the instigators, at least up to something. No. The event was in fact a coup d'etat.

Usually it means that some tinpot generals have overthrown the government and seized power in some distant country where democracy hasn't taken firm root.

Here, it covers a conspiracy led by some of the city's key power brokers. That conspiracy forced the legally elected mayor and aldermen of Wilmington, a biracial body, to resign, one by one, essentially by gunpoint. They were then replaced by an all-white slate.

An unknown number of African Americans were killed in the process. As far as is known, no white people lost their lives.

The leaders of this coup later joined other white supremacists in North Carolina in enacting Jim Crow laws that instituted racial segregation and deprived most black citizens of the right to vote for more than half a century.

The legacy of this coup put a chill on Wilmington life that lasted for close to a century and still exists today.

More than 120 years later, some North Carolinians have seen their voting rights targeted by election laws and their political clout diminished by gerrymandering.

Fortunately, North Carolina now seems to be heading in a different direction. The courts have called foul on the excesses of gerrymandering. A new law with bipartisan support, signed by Gov. Cooper, cracks down on the practice of "harvesting" absentee ballots and further guarantees early voting is available on the Saturday before Election Day.

The long-overdue 1898 marker is up, but the fight isn't over. As the coup d'etat of 1898 taught us, foreign foes are not our only menace.

Star News of Wilmington, a Gannett publication

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Editorial: Remembering the 1898 coup in Wilmington, NC - News - Burlington Times News

Does America Have a Gluten Discrimination Problem? – The National Interest Online

Sitting down for a family feast, do you need to gird yourself for battle in the ongoing sociopolitical culture war? In todays hyperpartisan United States, common food products have become proxies for conservative and liberal values. Meat-eating Republicans versus quinoa-loving Democrats. Imported-beer liberals versus domestic-beer conservatives.

Nothing showcases this proxy war better than the rise of gluten sensitivity.

From gluten free water to Jimmy Kimmel clips, gluten sensitivity has permeated the modern American food culture. Despite having no data to support their claims, media voices ranging from the satirical show Portlandia to commentators on Fox News have poked fun at what they characterize as the gluten-intolerant left.

People on the political right, including Ted Cruz, allege that gluten-intolerant West Coast liberals are at the forefront of political correctness.

But is there reality to this perception that liberals cant stomach gluten, while conservatives can wolf it down without complaint?

As researchers of food politics, Bailey Norwood and I often focus on how different market segments perceptions influence their food choices. We decided to investigate the demonization of gluten and our empirical analysis suggests that gluten sensitivity affects people of all political persuasions.

Gluten facts

As physician Robert Shmerling describes, gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It turns up in many common foods, including pizza, cereal and beer. Gluten is what gives dough its elasticity, but it has limited nutritional value itself.

Approximately 0.5% of North Americans have been clinically diagnosed with celiac disease. When people with this autoimmune genetic disease eat gluten, it damages their small intestine, leading to other long-term health effects. The number of documented cases has dramatically risen over the past 30 to 40 years, though researchers arent sure why.

While consumers with celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should definitely avoid gluten, there is no strong scientific evidence that anyone else needs to reduce their gluten consumption. In fact, there is no evidence that would support the notion that gluten-free foods are any healthier than foods filled with gluten for most of the population.

Nevertheless, disagreement rages on regarding whether gluten sensitivity is real and deserves the same universal acceptance that diagnosable diseases like celiac and other established health conditions enjoy.

The contention that gluten sensitivity goes along with liberalism takes the debate even further. If this were true, it would have serious implications for policy decisions and food marketing strategies. It would imply that gluten sensitivity is not strictly a medical condition but a social construct, which would not require the same regulatory concern as other health conditions.

Who actually says no to gluten?

To conduct our analysis, Norwood and I asked 1,086 U.S. consumers four questions about their perceptions of gluten.

We created a gluten aversion index by adding up each persons responses. A score of 4 would indicate that the respondent was not at all gluten avoidant, while a score of 28 would indicate that the respondent was extremely gluten avoidant. After removing the surprisingly high 3.7% of individuals who told us theyd been clinically diagnosed with celiac disease, we looked at the linkage between political ideology and gluten sensitivity.

Contrary to the common stereotype, we found no evidence that the political left is more likely to report being gluten sensitive. In fact, when we divided our sample by preferred president of the past few decades, those who selected Donald Trump were also the most likely to identify as gluten avoidant.

So if progressive liberals arent actually more gluten sensitive, how does the perception take hold?

What psychologists call motivated reasoning is likely a primary culprit. As a time-saving measure, your mind tries to sort each person you encounter into crude buckets based on quick assessments. Once a connection begins to gain traction, it can spread, often leading to misperceptions about individual beliefs and preferences.

Politicization of an ingredient

Its not clear why gluten sensitivity became intertwined with stereotypes about liberal progressives. In fact, even far-right extremist websites such as Infowars have been known to advocate for gluten-free diets.

While we find no evidence of a clear separation between the self-reported gluten sensitivity of liberals and conservatives, it is likely that politically polarizing topics have compromised other food choices. Consider climate change and meat consumption. Vegans and vegetarians are already more likely to identify as liberal. Given the heavy emphasis placed by media on reducing meat consumption as a metric for consciousness regarding climate change, some evidence suggests that meat consumption increasingly can be divided along party lines.

What people eat is one of the most visible decisions they make each day. This is increasingly true as American consumers cook less and eat away from home more. In 2012, Barack Obama won 77% of the counties with a Whole Foods and a meager 29% of Cracker Barrel counties, after all.

Despite Americans political differences, many of us are deeply interested in the foods we consume. Our gluten investigation provides a gentle reminder against simplistic stereotyping around the dinner table.

[ Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversations newsletter and get a digest of academic takes on todays news, every day. ]

Trey Malone, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist, Michigan State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Reuters

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Does America Have a Gluten Discrimination Problem? - The National Interest Online

31 Fabulous Things To Do In Southern California This Thanksgiving Week: Nov. 25-28 – LAist

A lot of Thanksgiving races are on tap for turkey day. (Rex Hammock via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Before you tuck into that Thanksgiving meal, burn some calories at a turkey trot. Madonna wraps her L.A. residency this week. The Never Not Funny podcast tapes a live show. Love Actually Live returns to the stage. The American Cinematheque screens the holiday classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A Galaxy Quest documentary celebrates the cult film's 20th anniversary. And a UCB show improvs a Thanksgiving family meal.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25; 10:30 P.M. MadonnaThe Wiltern 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-WilshireThe material girl woman wraps her residency at the Wiltern. She's on tour to support her 14th studio album, Madame X, a "love letter to multiculturalism and a testament to Madonna's transformative influence on, and respect for, global culture." This is a no cellphone/no recording device event. COST: Tickets start at $175; MORE INFO

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25 - SEPTEMBER 2020L.A. MuralsWalt Disney Concert Hall 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.A new photography exhibition from the Library of Congress showcases murals painted on the streets of L.A. Now on view in the Ira Gershwin Gallery, it features 30 photographs from the archives of photographers Carol M. Highsmith and Camilo Jos Vergara, part of the Library's more than 14 million photographs. COST: FREE; MORE INFO

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25Tacos. Mezcal. Repeat.JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE 900 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown L.A.The hotel's ground floor restaurant, The Mixing Room, becomes Tacos. Mezcal. Repeat. through summer 2020. The menu has been updated with Latin American-inspired flavors and there are more than 60 new mezcals and tequilas to choose from. New dishes include cochinita pibil tacos, beef short rib taquitos and white shrimp ceviche. When the Lakers play at home on Tuesdays, look for their taco Tuuuuuuesday specials.COST: Varies ; MORE INFO

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25; 8 - 9:30 A.M.Never Not Funny LiveFeinstein's at Vitello's 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio CityThe Earwolf podcast presents a live taping of the show featuring hosts Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap chatting with guest CeCe Pleasants.COST: $15, plus $20 food and beverage minimum; MORE INFO

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25; 7 - 8 P.M.Chez Melange Celebrates 37 Years1611 S Catalina Ave, Redondo BeachThe South Bay staple celebrates nearly four decades in business with a night of food, wine and stories. Hear tales from owners Michael Franks and chef Robert Bell while enjoying a meal. Call 310-540-1222 for reservations.COST: $95, plus tax and service; MORE INFO

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest DocumentaryVarious SoCal movie theatersThe meta sci-fi comedy starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and Sam Rockwell, gets more meta thanks to a documentary. Produced by Fandom and Screen Junkies, the doc features insight from the original cast along with commentary from Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot, and Star Trek fan-favorites Wil Wheaton and Brent Spiner. The one-day only event also features deleted scenes and the premiere of the "Honest Trailer" for film, which was released 20 years ago.COST: Varies; MORE INFO

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27; 8 - 9 P.M.Thanksgiving Feast Show Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre 5919 Franklin Ave., Franklin VillageThis improv show recreates a family Thanksgiving meal with all its awkwardness and hilarity. From creepy uncles to troubled teens and out-of-it elders, watch this show to prepare yourself for the holidays. Since this is a "feast," audience members will be served food during the show.COST: $9; MORE INFO

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27 - SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29Love Actually LiveThe Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts 9390 N Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly HillsThe multimedia concert celebration of Richard Curtis's 2003 film returns to the Wallis after last year's smash run. Returning cast members Rex Smith, Carrie Manolakos, Doug Kreeger, Tomasina Abate, Carson Higgins and Emily Lopez join new players including Rogelio Douglas Jr., Declan Bennett, Jon Robert Hall and Chris Mann.COST: $39 - 125 ; MORE INFO

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27Truffle DayEataly L.A. 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century CityIn Italy and around the world, white truffles are a rare delicacy. For one day, Eataly offers the truffles at the lowest price in year, $4.90 per gram (that's up to 55% off) and just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.COST: Varies; MORE INFO

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27; 7:30 - 9:30 P.M.Planes, Trains and AutomobilesAero Theatre 1328 Montana Ave., Santa MonicaAvoid the freeways and duck into a screening of John Hughes's 1987 Thanksgiving-themed film starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. When a stiff businessman meets an freewheelng fellow passenger, they're forced to travel together to make it to their homes in time for the holiday.COST: $12; MORE INFO

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28; 6 A.M. - 12 P.M.Turkey Trot Los AngelesLos Angeles City Hall 200 N. Spring St., downtown L.A.The 7th annual run returns with the goal of raising $50,000 for the Midnight Mission. Runners dressed in Thanksgiving costumes jog through DTLA's streets in a loop that starts and ends at City Hall. Participants are encouraged to donate money or bring blankets and towels. The events begin at 6:45 a.m. and end after the Widdle Wobble fun run for kids at 10:15 am. Registration includes a Turkey Trot L.A. T-Shirt and a finisher medal. COST: $20 - $70; MORE INFO

Looking for other options? There are tons of Turkey Trots happening around Southern California. Here are a few.

If you're hosting guests this week, or not going anywhere for the holiday, you've got options.

Through SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1The Thanksgiving PlayGeffen Playhouse 10886 Le Conte Ave., WestwoodWritten by Larissa FastHorse (What Would Crazy Horse Do?, Landless) and directed by Michael John Garcs (Urban Rez, The Royale), the play asks how do you celebrate Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage month at the same time? The satire follows "three 'woke' white thespians tasked with devising an elementary school pageant about the first Thanksgiving." The production pokes fun at political correctness and the politics of entertainment?COST: $30 - $120; MORE INFO

Through SUNDAY, JANUARY 12 Moonlight ForestLos Angeles County Arboretum 301 N. Baldwin Ave., ArcadiaThe lantern art festival features interactive displays and two new themes, Polar Dreams ,which features penguins and cuddly sled dogs, and Ocean Visions, which features exotic fish, giant sharks and undersea creatures. COST: $23 - $28; MORE INFO

Through TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10Key LargoGeffen Playhouse Theater 10886 Le Conte Ave., WestwoodDanny Pino, Andy Garcia and Joely Fisher star in Maxwell Anderson's Broadway play (made famous by the pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the film noir). Returning from World War II, disillusioned vet Frank McCloud (Pino) travels to a hotel in Key Largo to pay his respects to the widow of a fallen friend. But now has to deal with the mobsters, led by the ruthless Johnny Rocco (Garcia), who have taken over the joint. COST: $30 - $155; MORE INFO

Through SUNDAY, JANUARY 5; 6 - 10 P.M.L.A. Zoo LightsLos Angeles Zoo 5333 Zoo Dr., Griffith ParkThe holiday season begins at the zoo with the return of its fantastical light display. The self-guided, 60 to 90 minute walk features wildlife-inspired displays, lights, projections and immersive interactive experiences.Treats and visits with Santa are also available.COST: $11.95 - $21.95; MORE INFO

Through SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29JitneyMark Taper Forum 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs the Center Theatre Group's presentation of August Wilson's classic. Set in the 1970s, the play follows a group of men who drive unlicensed cabs aka jitneys. When the city threatens to board up the business and the boss's son returns from prison, tempers flare and secrets are revealed.COST: $25 - $125 ; MORE INFO

Through SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1Los Angeles Auto ShowConvention Center 1201 S Figueroa St., downtown L.A.Car enthusiasts can check out more than 1,000 vehicles including debuts, custom and exotic cars, test drives and activations for drivers and non-drivers alike. The show hosts its first-ever LEGO booth, which honors SoCal's car culture and also features a life-size LEGO Bugatti Chiron.COST: $6 - $35 admission; MORE INFO

Through SUNDAY, JANUARY 5Enchanted Forest of LightDescanso Gardens 1418 Descanso Dr., La Caada FlintridgeTake a one-mile nighttime stroll through the garden's foliage, which will be illuminated with interactive installations that allow guests to manipulate the lights and sounds. Tickets are timed and are rain-or-shine.COST: General admission tickets start at $28; MORE INFO

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22 - SUNDAY, JANUARY 5Santa's Village - A Nostalgic Christmas in the WoodsSkyPark at Santa's Village 28950 California 18, SkyforestThe outdoor adventure park near Lake Arrowhead plays host to Santa throughout the holiday season. There are activities and entertainment for all ages such as meet-and-greets with Mr. Claus, magic show, ice skating, parades and light shows. Day passes also include access to park attractions like ziplining, an archery range, an ax challenge and pedal cars.COST: $49 - $59; MORE INFO

Through SATURDAY, JANUARY 4Magic Lantern FestivalPomona Fairplex 1101 W. McKinley Ave., PomonaEvery Saturday through Jan. 4, the Chinese Lantern Festival returns for the holiday season. View illuminated displays with the theme "Blooming Seasons." Bask in the glow of lanterns strung up to 30 feet high and a 100-yard-long ceramic dragon. You'll also learn about the art of lantern-making in China, which dates back 2,000 years.COST: $15.50 - $27; MORE INFO

Through SUNDAY, DECEMBER 2229th Annual Winter FantasySawdust Art Festival 935 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna BeachWhile most people visit the Sawdust Festival grounds during the summer, the three-acre art village transforms into a snowy wonderland for five weekends during the winter. The festival features 180 artists and makers, three stages of music, art demonstrations, a petting zoo, holiday lights, trees and Santa. The community tree lighting takes place on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. COST: $4 - $12, and active or retired members of the military, and three members of their family get in for free.; MORE INFO

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31 Fabulous Things To Do In Southern California This Thanksgiving Week: Nov. 25-28 - LAist

Town Cuts Tree Lighting From Holiday Celebration To Appease Those ‘Offended’ By The Tradition – The MIX

The town of Durham, New Hampshire finally submitted to the politically correct police this year by agreeing to remove the tree lighting from their annual holiday celebration. The decision was announced after the town received complaints about the tree lighting tradition.

CBS reported that the event which was previously known as the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will now be called Frost Fest. And the tree lighting at the center of the celebration will no longer be part of it.

While Santa will attend the event, he will not be in a town firetruck as he has in the past. In addition, the wreaths that traditionally adorned lamp posts on Main Street will not be put up this year.

Town Council member Sally Tobias explained that these changes were made after someone complained that they are offended by the Christmas themes in the ceremony.

There was another private citizen that came forward and said that he had always had a problem with the Christmas tree, as he called it, Tobias said.

After a public meeting held by town officials, aworking committee was formed that went about making changes to the event.

There were a couple of people that did express some concerns about how they felt being included, Tobias said.

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Rabbi Berel Slavaticki of the University of New Hampshire and Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center praised the town for not doing the tree lighting this year, saying the Town Council is moving in the right direction.

To stop cultures and faiths from practicing publicly would be very un-American. I think thats the beauty of our country, the Rabbi said.

He added that last year, he had asked the town to display a Menorah during the eight days of Hanukkah, but his request was denied.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that the Menorah and the Christmas tree both represent the holiday winter season, Slavaticki said.

Tobias herself admitted that she is not a huge fan of the changes that have been made, but she added that the town is open to feedback from others.

I will state that trees and Santas and wreaths are not Christian, Tobias said, And we would like to hear back from the community. Wed like to hear what they think about it, how they would like to see it evolve a little differently and how we can make it better.

This isnt the first time Durhams Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony has been at the center of controversy. Last year the Human Rights Council pressured the town to discontinue the tree lighting. This year, it would seem the Council finally caved.

Read the story: Town Fights Back Against Ban on Christmas Tree Lighting

Why is it that liberals who are obsessed with political correctness feel the need to ruin absolutely everything that is good and fun in the world?

What happened in Durham shows once again that there really is a war on Christmas, and that liberals will not be satisfied until all signs of the Christian holiday are erased forever.

We can only hope that town officials come to their senses and reinstate the annual tree lighting ceremony.

Its a shame that the entire town is going to be deprived of this Christmas event just because of a few Scrooges.

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Town Cuts Tree Lighting From Holiday Celebration To Appease Those 'Offended' By The Tradition - The MIX

The smashing and killing is ramped up a notch in War of the Worlds episode 2 – review – The Independent

A baffling amount of attention has been paid to the supposed wokeness of the BBCs adaptation ofTheWar of the Worlds. Several national publications have joked that it has all gone woke in Woking the Surrey town in which HG Wells1898 disaster novel, and this new three-part series, is set. The reason? One of the characters is female, and another vaguely hints at being gay. We must alert the church elders.

In last weeks first episode of this intriguing, if hardly pacy, adaptation, protagonist Georges biggest problem was that his ex-wife/cousin was refusing to divorce him, and thus he couldnt marry his new girlfriend Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson, sharing just enough chemistry with Rafe Spalls George to sell the relationship, but no more). Until, that is, a strange meteor crash landed in their sleepy village, cracked open, and revealed an arachnoid machine that proceeded to murder everyone in its path. The invaders, it was deduced, had come from Mars.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The second episode begins a few years on. Amy is searching in vain for her lost partner, their son George Jr in tow. Gone is the lush greenery, the quaint villages and the smog-filled London cityscape. In its place is a vast, Tatooine-like desert bathed in red light. The Martians seem to be dead, killed shortly after arrival, but the chaos they unleashed remains. Food is scarce. Instead of crops, red glassy shards jut out of the ground. The survivors dont sing God Save the King, but God Save Us All. It is a bleak state of affairs. Well, as far as I can make out, squinting at the screen, it is. The BBC has a frustrating habit of hiding its action in the shadows, as if darkness equals drama.

Its generally accepted that Wellsnovel, about the invasion of Earth by Martians, is an allegory though for what, nobody can quite agree. Is it a prescient environmentalist warning? A fable about the hubris of humanity? A critique of imperialism? Im surprised that in all the scandalised chatter about political correctness, nobody has questioned the timing of reviving a story such as this: a foreign species arrives in Great Britain and destroys the natural order of things. It seems that something has arrived in England, announces Nicholas Le Prevosts Chamberlain. It has completely destroyed Weybridge railway station and massacred an entire battalion. Another character declares: Unless we think of some way to stop this, this will not be our planet anymore. Is this not uncomfortably evocative of xenophobic Brexit rhetoric? Hey ho. Maybe I should just enjoy the smashing and killing.

Click through to read the gallery >>>

As a slightly cheesy reminder of what we love about Doctor Who i.e. the fact it gives us an intergalactic eccentric in a big flappy overcoat shouting at Daleks this is a New Year treat that more than delivers

BBC

Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland is a meandering look back over his life, career, and national identity a Proustian wander through Scotland. Theres a lot of mordant chat about the weather, illustrated with shots of dark grey clouds above even darker grey lochs.

BBC/7Wonder/Jaimie Gramston

From the outset the production is elevated by its sensitive handling of the men and the Paratroopers remain exclusively male involved. These kinds of programmes have a tendency to fetishise toughness, lingering on assault courses and weaponry.

Jonny Ashton/ITV

Despite what some feared, the casting of Cumberbatch doesnt simply flatter Cummings the A-lister is too good a chameleon for that. But, inevitably, as he scrawls out his campaigning brainwaves on a whiteboard, there is a touch of that deductive maverick Sherlock in his portrayal of this scruffy, balding political saboteur.

Nick Wall

The programme-makers must have done much to win the confidence of so many friends and families, as they went through unspeakable personal pain; but they repay that confidence with an understated and powerful film.

Channel 4

This documentary goes behind the shrubbery to show off these animals and their guardians. The humans are a pretty exotic bunch too, judging by some of the lines they come out with.

Channel 4

You see, saint or sinner, prince or pauper, we are all part of one race, the brotherhood of man. And the saintly and regal Danny Dyer stands as its finest ambassador.

BBC

West believes Valjean to be the greatest hero in all literature, and he plays the part with all the care and intricacy such a character deserves.

BBC/Lookout Point/Laurence Cendrowicz

For anyone whos not altogether sure how British politics turned so suddenly into a rolling dumpster fire from which all exits are blocked then Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil is a necessary public service to explain exactly, and exactly how needlessly, we all came to be here.

BBC/European Council Newsroom

Theres really been nothing quite like Catastrophe on our screens before, and it deserves its cult status for the quality of everything the production team do, not least the stunning cinematography in this finale. Thanks, all. Im glad Catastrophe died happy."

Channel 4

Yet again the Williams have woven a brilliantly tangled web, helped in no small part by Karyos quietly arresting central turn

PA

It is both a revisionist and frequently batty take on the caped milieu and a winningly knotty mystery. And it surely is the first big-budget superhero tale more indebted to Wes Anderson than to Stan Lee.

Netflix

Like all the best detective dramas, Shetland engages the audience in the very process of detection. That way we grow intrigued, and we care. And so we find ourselves sitting next to Henshall in his (prominently featured) Volvo V70 estate, sharing his thoughts, intercepting suspects and being driven off the road by unidentified enemies.

BBC/ITV Studios

"This Time with Alan Partridge is such a consistently strong creative achievement that fears for the future of Alan Gordon Partridge, may, once again, be allayed. Or Alayned, perhaps.

BBC

"Michael Jackson has long looked like a burning tire yard. There were the allegations, the out-of-court settlements, the arrest, the trial and not-guilty verdict. But there has been nothing like Leaving Neverland

AFP/Getty

"Home is a rather gentle, unobtrusive variation on the sitcom theme but one that is built on a quite a bizarre premise. The twist is that a family who returns to Surrey from a holiday touring around France discover a Syrian refugee stuffed in the back of their SUV. Not only that, but, after a few moments of blind terrified panic about a suicide bombing, they eventually adopt him like hes stray cat thats just wandered in."

Channel 4

"A tremendously sad, strange story then, and just as unfathomable today. Dandos friends, family and the producer and director of the film have made a fitting and balanced tribute to her, something she deserves. I cant really add anything to that."

PA

"It is sometimes remarked that the Troubles in Northern Ireland make for an unpromising backdrop for a sitcom about adolescent kids. Well, yer mans wrong, as they might say. Derry Girls, returning for a triumphant and exuberant second run, proves that humour, dark or otherwise, can be quarried from even the most unlikely of locations."

Peter Marley

"While there are plenty of well-turned one-liners, the deeper attraction of Fleabag is schadenfreude. The character is as old as Daisy Buchanan or Lydia Bennett or Scarlett OHara. The best compliment to Waller-Bridge and her cast is that they find fresh clothes in which to dress these ancient monsters."

BBC/Two Brothers/Luke Varley

"The Road to Brexit is easily the best thing to emerge from the whole brexit imbroglio. OK, not much competition, but still... Despite the po-faced title, you realise very quickly that its not yet another drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch or yet another attempt by Laura Kuenssberg to explain the inexplicable, or yet another show with the public arguing about stuff they dont understand. Rather, its a very clever, very funny, very 'different' parcel of bollocks to Brexit."

BBC

"The footage is glorious, especially the side-on tracking shots of the birds and the hunting, where it is as if the cameramen were able to set up a rail along the ocean. Most spectacular of all is the sequence of a glacier collapsing into the ocean, where 75m tons of ice being sloughed off in less than 20-minutes. But at times Our Planet feels a little unfocused. Attenboroughs last big BBC series, Dynasties, won almost unbearable amount of emotional resonance through its focus on animal families. Our Planet is more of a greatest-hits parade, with overblown orchestral soundtrack and ponderous intonation. You cant buy love, even if you pay for David Attenborough."

Netflix

"Plausibility is a spectrum; Bodyguard became ridiculous but Line of Duty stays just the right side, and as usual there is more plot in an hour than in whole series of other programmes. As well as being gripping entertainment, Line of Duty has become an effective examination of the relationship between the state and the individual. The shadowy government forces are elected; the organised crime gangs are fuelled by the drug trade. The police are there to save us from ourselves but can only do it if they are subjected to constant scrutiny. Its exhausting work, policing the police."

BBC

"Joseph is almost never out of shot, whether seen from afar, contemplating a bottle of strong cider in a playground, or in visceral close-up, clutching his doner to his face. There are few actors you could trust with so much screen time, especially with such a pared back and naturalistic script. The fact any of it is remotely watchable is testament to Stephen Grahams abilities. No man working in Britain today can drink a pint with more pathos."

Dean Rogers/Channel 4

'Good Omens is a hugely enjoyable, imaginative premiere, as close to Pratchetts vision as anyone could have dared dream. And while the melancholy tone may not be for everyone, fans of the book will surely be sated.'

Amazon Prime

"Years and Years, then, is favoured by some wit, a cornucopia of fab talent and promising characters. The dominant one as we continue our quest into the 2030s and beyond, will be Vivienne, or Viv, Rook, played brilliantly by Emma Thompson. As a bit of a long-term Emma-sceptic I was actually startled by how good she is in the role of the epitome of everything she has spent her life hating and campaigning against, for Viv is a horrifically nasty businessperson turned populist politician with the most terrifying of views. Viv Rook makes Ann Widdecombe look like, well, Emma Thompson at an Extinction Rebellion sit-in."

BBC

"As the series develops, its clearer than ever that Eve and Villanelle are more similar than they are different. Villanelles new vulnerability invites us to question what it is exactly she wants from Polastri. First time around she was toying with a more worthy adversary, but why now? Polastri, by contrast, is frayed around the edges, a terrible wife to her husband Nico (Owen McDonnell) and an even worse intelligence agent to her boss Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw). The script is still tight and the jokes are still there, as are Villanelles accents, outfits and abrupt killings, but without the will-they/wont-they energy of the initial plot, it is harder to care."

BBC/BBC America

"Timely, bleak, intelligent and compelling, Chernobyl is a triumph of a disaster."

HBO

"Season three's knuckle-whitening finale is far less disappointing than the last."

Hulu

"The writing is sharp and well observed, probing the fault lines between small talk and real problems."

Channel 4

"A touching tribute to a flawed reality TV star."

Channel 4

"Despite the strength of its ensemble cast, Succession is a feat of writing above all. Although it is ostensibly a business show, you wont learn much about the minutiae of media deals by watching it. Its key dynamic, between father and children, means that it is limited in the amount that can actually happen without risking the magic. The writers, led by the creator Jesse Armstrong, who also gave us Peep Show, weave just-about-plausible and sympathetic characters from a web of insults and backstabbing, and tight editing and camerawork ratchets up tension from a slow-moving plot."

HBO

"In Kathy Burkes All Women on Channel 4, the unapologetic, effing-and-blinding, salt-of-the-earth actor meets lots of different women from nuns to reality stars to understand what it means to be a member of the fairer sex, so to speak, in 2019."

Channel 4

"So here we have an intriguing, but rather flawed sort of Big Brother thriller set in our contemporary world of digital snooping, near constant surveillance and (a topical touch) widespread use of facial recognition technology."

BBC/Heyday Films/Nick Wall

"Top Boy can be bleak and violent, with dialogue so naturalistic that it verges on the impenetrable, but in telling stories that rarely get heard, it asks us to think differently about the city we live in."

Netflix

"Criminal uses its small canvas to ask big questions. The focus on these intricate dances means that after a while we begin to question the idea of objective truth, as well as the facts at hand. I have no idea if it is a realistic depiction of detective work, but it makes for gripping drama."

Netflix

"After an hour of Tories at War (Channel 4), I felt I had to get out into the fresh air and go for a walk. The foul language; the visceral hatred; the unbearable tensions; the violence being inflicted on ancient institutions and this poor old knackered country by the Tories, as if with chainsaws and zombie knives it was like watching my first Saw movie."

Pro Co

"In a TV world where too often we are encouraged to see the Nazis as warm and cuddly real people with emotions, its refreshing that they are here relegated back to pure baddies, strafing cafes, shooting surrendering fathers and generally being Nazi-ish about things."

BBC/Mammoth Screen

"At last, an answer to the question, what could be more fabulous than Helen Mirren playing The Queen? Helen Mirren playing an empress, altogether madder, badder and more dangerous to shag. Better costumes, too."

Sky Atlantic

"Sarah Phelpss adaptation of crime writer Tana Frenchs novels finds two detectives trying to solve the murder of a young girl, with plenty of twists and turns."

BBC

"Romance is complicated, cathartic and messy, regardless of age or circumstance. But such uncomfortable realities are swept beneath the rug in John Carneys rigorously whimsical new Amazon series. Modern Love is adapted from a New York Times column (it also spawned a hit podcast) and is as much a valentine to a fantasia vision of Manhattan as it is a dissection of the human heart."

Amazon Studios

"Damon Lindelofs version of the beloved graphic novel is a compelling demonstration of what can happen when source material is treated with sensitivity and imagination."

HBO

"Arriving in the wake of Marvels Black Panther, the film highlights the links between the saga of the real-life Agoji women, who fought in the former Kingdom of Dahomey (located in modern-day Benin), and the all-women comic-book world protectors known as Dora Milaje."

Channel 4

"The writer Jack Thorne says his latest four-part drama, which explores the aftermath of a disaster on a small community, was shaped by the Grenfell Tower fire. Rather than overcrowded west London, his takes place in Glyngolau, a fictional run-down town in Wales. A new building project, The Light, is being built on the outskirts. Its unclear what The Light is, exactly, which is deliberate. The point is not what it is, exactly, but what it represents: 1,000 new jobs and a rare moment of economic optimism for families who have forgotten what hope feels like."

Channel 4/ Warren Orchard

"Watching Seven Worlds, One Planet, its hard to know what to worry about most: the future of wildlife catastrophically imperilled by our fondness for fossil fuels, long-haul travel and convenience food or Attenborough himself, now 93 and one of the few people that the world will listen to about the impending apocalypse. Like the species on whose behalf he speaks, his continued existence is vital for us all."

PA

"Hailee Steinfeld is perfectly cast. She has a face and a set of elastic expressions that feels both well-suited to a period piece (as first displayed in her Oscar-nominated role in True Grit in 2010), and resolutely out of place in it. Just as Emily Dickinson was. Steinfeld crackles with charm and impropriety."

Apple/Virginia McMillian

This is a beautiful, brooding vision of Pullmans universe, which retains the mix of childish wonder and darkness that make his books so beguiling to young adults.

BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO

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As a slightly cheesy reminder of what we love about Doctor Who i.e. the fact it gives us an intergalactic eccentric in a big flappy overcoat shouting at Daleks this is a New Year treat that more than delivers

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The smashing and killing is ramped up a notch in War of the Worlds episode 2 - review - The Independent

How redefining medicine has redefined the family – Lifesite

November 25, 2019 (American Thinker) Today, largely due to government policy, doctors' offices have been transformed into a big governmentcontrolled business, and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the leading body for family medicine in the United States, appears to prefer it that way. As older doctors like me leave the field, young idealistic physicians bypass family medicine; they are neither interested in working for a business nor motivated by a stifling code of political correctness that fails to recognize the dignity of every human being.

Over 50 years ago, purposeful ignorance of the definition of reproductive health and basic embryology initiated family medicine's decline. Embryology teaches that after an act of sexual intercourse, sperm and egg unite in the woman's fallopian tube, and a human life is created. Seven days later, that human implants in the woman's womb, and nine months later, the mother delivers her child. Ensuring that this process works as natural law intends is reproductive health care, just as ensuring that the heart pumps blood is cardiac health care. For family physicians, however, 1965 brought with it a new discovery about the beginning of life. No longer at fertilization, doctors now declared that human life began with uterine implantation. The new beginning was based not on Nobel Prizewinning medical research, but rather on a desire to cash in on the contraceptive pill, which occasionally prevents a human life from implanting in the womb. It was more lucrative to simply lie about the beginning of human life than to explain to patients the pill's abortifacient potential. Although appearing innocuous, this unscientific declaration demonstrated that family medicine was willing to sacrifice scientific excellence and medical ethics for consumerism. It set a precedent in which select people can claim something to be a medical fact and redefine it as such without any type of scientific analysis. And finally, it began the involvement of medicine in practices purposefully designed to prevent a human organ system from working properly the antithesis of health care.

This deception, led by physicians and amplified by governments, has led the world to believe that the reprophobic practices of contraception, abortion, and sterilization are the main elements of reproductive health care. The absurdity of this belief could best be compared to a government proposal in which physicians would prescribe alcohol as the main component of neurologic health care. Without ever entering into dialogue within the medical community about the pros and cons of enticing people to be more sexually active by unnaturally inhibiting the reproductive system, reprophobics became an essential element of health care. Although lucrative, the negative effects on the family of such treatment, including increased teen sexual activity, infidelity, and the death of family members, should be something family medicine physicians are particularly concerned about. But the AAFP is not, preferring to virtue-signal about the politically correct subject du jour while keeping the "family" in family medicine devoid of any real meaning.

So integral to family medicine has contraception becomethat not to prescribe it makes working as a physician difficult. Unable to afford the bureaucraticexpense of private practice, I have felt required on multiple occasions to proclaim religious beliefs as an excuse for my prescribing practices, while groveling before a prospective employer. In retrospect, this was always a weak argument, as it suggested that if not for myunscientific belief in a supernatural deity, I would prescribe reprophobics day and night. In reality, it is my medical beliefs that determine how I treat my patients; God did not order me to have them. They reflect extensive study of the family and sexuality, based on the natural law and its realistic consequences, which my wife and I do our best to put into practice.

Religious belief is just another term that progressives have cleverly co-opted to devalue convictions that are consistent with orthodox Christian values. Beliefs including that life begins at conception, homosexual "marriage" is wrong, and abortion is murder are dismissed as religious. Beliefs that life begins at some other time, gender is fluid, or abortion is great are not and therefore considered of higher importance.

My medical beliefs have helped to keep my family healthy; I want the same for my patients.

Control of prescription contraceptives makes physicians big-money players in the commercial side of sexual activity. The imperfection of contraception in preventing unwanted pregnanciesgives medicine another opportunity to profit, in this case through abortion procedures. The importance of these procedures in American medicine is clearly illustrated by aMay 2019 joint public statement that condemns state laws limiting abortion, complaining that they "inappropriately interfere with the patient-physician relationship" and "unnecessarily regulate the evidence-based practice of medicine." The underlying but unstated premise of the statement, promulgated by the AAFP and five other large medical associations, is that human lives are of different value, especially unborn family members. For unborn lives of higher value, the mother and child become patients, and it is (as it should be) the physician's responsibility to do his best to ensure a healthy delivery. For those of lesser value, the doctor is directed not only to walk away from the doctor-patient relationship, but, moreover, toenable child extermination.

Despite the public statement's grandiloquent description of family physicians as "informed by their years of medical education, training, experience, and the available evidence,"none of that is considered in the final decision about the value of an unborn family member. It is rather the often flawed analysis of a distraught teenage girl with a SpongeBob level of medical knowledge that leads to the life-or-death decision.

Without ever providing a rationale, AAFP directives strip the family physician of his role as true advocate for every pregnant mother and her child. Unable to defend its position on the basis of medical ethics, generally regarded as medicine's highest standard, the AAFP chooses rather to highlight abortion as evidence-based medicine. Voluminous evidence, most recently from the Planned Parenthood baby parts trafficking case, does at least support this claim, demonstrating the deadly effectiveness of this unethical and disturbing medical procedure. However, rather than interfere with the doctor-patient relationship as these organizations claim, recently passed laws mandate the establishment of such a relationship with a child whom doctors would otherwise have cruelly and unethically chosen to discard.

Since 1973, government has legalized a "religious" belief that unborn family members do not automatically deserve the right to life. At the time and continuing today, rather than stand up for the humanity of the unborn, something in which the physician has honored expertise, the AAFP produces condescending and illogical criticism of those voters who do. American medical organizations have allowed government to establish itself as a permanent intrusive member of the doctor-patient relationship and given credence to those who believe that some American lives have less value than others. Hidden behind terms like "reproductive health care," "evidence-based medicine," and "intrusion into the patient-doctor relationship" is our willingness as an organization to sacrifice human life for financial and political gain. When professions whose reputations are established based on Christlike ideals of helping the weakest among us attempt to prosper at the cost of the weak, failure is inevitable except, of course, for those with lives of higher value.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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How redefining medicine has redefined the family - Lifesite

Letters to the Editor: Nov. 22, 2019 – TCPalm

Americans should take responsibility for problems we have created

Jay Ambroses Nov. 11 column, Hugs wont defeat Mexican drug cartels, says he thinks President Trump has the right solution to Americas drug problem, which results in the death of 68,000 Americans overdosing on drugs yearly.

Trumps simple solution is to wipe the Mexican drug cartels off the face of the Earth.

Perhaps Trump should really solve the greater problems that exist right here in America. After all, every year, 480,000 Americans die as the result of smoking, and another 41,000 Americans die of secondhand smoke. Applying President Trumps solution, wiping tobacco companies and farms off the face of America would save far more lives, and murdering anyone would be avoided.

Seems Americans are always prepared to blame others, start a war, bully or make the lives of others miserablein order to solve problems of our own making. Its about time Americans started taking responsibility for problems weve created, including those of drugs, guns, violence, militarism and our trade deficits, which are the result of our consumerism.

Anthony Frigo, Jensen Beach

A while ago I opened the paper and found reference to the fires in Australia. Then another column referred to floods in England. And next it was mentioned there were more than 100 earthquakes shaking us up here in the past year. Then, there were stories about the cartels in Mexico. And there were 30- and 40-inch rainfalls on the Gulf coast.

Add to all of that the political storms in progress that apparently will be going on forever, and it leads to the conclusion there is no safe place on Earth.

Oh, I nearly overlooked the program to eradicate history, as uneducated voters are demanding the removal of statuary that is personally offensive to them. A few years ago the Confederate flag was banned. And now I have apparently become an old, white male supremacist.

Add to all of that, there is a vocabulary modification where we can only use letters, like N, Fand S, instead of the words they represent. In fact, if you dont know the words, you wont find out because you cant say them. Political correctness will no doubt cause us to reduce the size of the alphabet if a couple of voters find the letters are offensive.

As all of the assaults, road-rage incidents, breaking-and-enterings, robberies, mass shootings and rapes go on, the liberals want to confiscate our guns to rob us of any means of protection. Many want open borders so, if that happens, there will be no United States. At that point it will be interesting to see what we will be called probably, just simply the Continent.

If the Democrats are correct, we have about 12 years left before the end of the world. I guess we can limp along until then.

Clement Woodhull, Vero Beach

First a man lies, then the lie lies, then the lie takes the man.

Other men repeat the lie over and over again. The lie travels, so to speak, such a distance that it appears to some as the facts.

As Kellyanne Conway said, we have alternative facts. Now, the originator of the lie thinks he can say anything he pleases! And he does. For instance: I can shoot somebody in Times Square and still not lose a vote. It is at this time I started looking at him out of the corner of my eye.

President Donald Trump speaks during an event on healthcare prices in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 15, 2019, in Washington.(Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

He dares to say anything to cover up bad decisions, to make himself look good, He will lie to you, his base, to make you feel good. People-pleasing is part of his con. Now with this latest episode with the Ukraine, he is in trouble again. He will use any weapon, mainly the lie, in order to win or gain advantage. He loves to win. His demonstration on how far he will go to win hasnt been experienced yet, neither has it been displayed if he loses.

If due process does not remove him, then many in Washington can stay home and not even bother running for office. His aggressive risk-taking will know no end, and you, his vaunted base, can form a committee and get him fitted for a military-style uniform like no other. Like Moammar Gadhafi perhaps! You will have your dictator. He will have the power he covets.

I will then look at the whole Republican Party out of the corner of my eye.

Maurice Bernier, Vero Beach

Each Christmas season I looked forward to attending the Indian River State College Planetarium in Fort Pierce. A very talented and renowned artist, John Serrie, performed on the synthesizer. He played a variety of carols from many countries; the sound was mysterious and eerie, and was syncopated with an incredible light show in the "heaven" above our heads.

The audience sat in the darkness to watch the planets, stars and our sun; the aurora borealis and other natural phenomena of the night sky while the artist played the synthesizer createda wonderfully, almost surreal, mood.

This year I did not see the program in the "Coming Events," so I called the college box office. I was told no, they were not having it this year; that some people wrote a letter to the college president complaining the college was doing "Christmas stuff."

What a shame.

Margaret Bowers, Stuart

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Letters to the Editor: Nov. 22, 2019 - TCPalm

French word of the day: Beauf – The Local France

Why do I need to know beauf?

It's a common expression, filled with French stereotypes.

What does it mean?

Beauf, not to be confused with boeuf (beef)or bof, has two meanings.

The simplest one is when used as a diminutive of beau-frre, brother in law. The other, more complex one, is the French colloquial term used to describe an unsophisticated or vulgar person.

Born at the hands of the famous French cartoonist Jean Cabut (known as Cabu) in the magazine Charlie Hebdo in the 1970s, the originalBeauf wasa typical francais moyen, narrow-minded, conservative, rude and chauvinist.

Cabu's original drawing was the mustachioed owner of a bistro, whoCabu described as someone who doesnt think, yet is convinced of his own truths.

The archetype of todays beauf, le nouveau beauf, is male, provincial, slightly racist and sexist, with poor taste. The English version could be "redneck or chav.

It is, of course, a stereotype, sometimes used to make sweeping generalisations that arent necessarily true. A Parisian might say that:

Les gens du nord, ce sont tous des gros beaufs. - People from the north are all chavs.

READ ALSO:French regional stereotypes: Is half the country really always drunk?

Any other options?

Beauf can also describe someone's behaviour. For example, if you are a bit of a snobbish bourgouise lady, you might say:

Manger avec les mains, mais c'est un comportement de beaufs, ca - Eating with your hands, that's just chavvy behaviour.

Or if you're sick of your uncle's sexist jokes, you might say:

Mon oncle a sorti une blague des beaufs ce week-end encore,trop sexiste!- My uncle told yet another really redneck joke this weekend, really sexist!

Although calling someone abeauf is not a compliment, there is also a form a pride tied to the label. Linguist Alain Rey told the Express that thelangage beauf (provincial language)as "a reaction to political correctness."

Speaking beauf could be a way of countering the "increasing policing of political speech and use of euphemisms," according to Rey.

For more French words and expressions, head to our French word of the Day section.

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French word of the day: Beauf - The Local France

As the Chick-fil-A Flap Shows, the Brands We Buy Are Increasingly a Values Proposition – Christianheadlines.com

(RNS) It was a culture-war white flag. Chick-fil-A, the Christian-led fried chicken fast food chain that had become a cause clebr among conservatives for its family values including donations to anti-LGBTQ groups like the Salvation Army announced this week that it would no longer be making donations to the Salvation Army or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, another faith-based group often under fire for its anti-LGBT stance.

Conservatives were quick to throw Chick-fil-A under the bus. The left will never be satisfied, Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro told Fox News. Once you give an inch to the left with regard to your fundamental principles, the left will never stop Theyre going to lose a lot of supporters on the right who feel like they surrendered to nasty, censorious cancel culture.

Meanwhile, Orthodox Christian writer (and American Conservative blogger) Rod Dreher angrily tweeted, Just gave ten bucks to Salvation Army bell ringer because of those stupid chicken cowards.

Chick-fil-As decision to stop donating to socially conservative groups may have been a capitulation to market forces. But both its original donations and its about-face say less about the demands of cancel culture than about the contemporary American spiritual marketplace, in which brands conservative and progressive alike have come to double as purveyors of value-laden ritual.

Buying the right product, boycotting the right product and, of course, pointing out the virtue of ones choice on social media have all become formalized ways of allying oneself with a metaphysical or ethical value system.

Indeed, it seems to be (the perception of) morality, rather than, say, sex or money or glamor that governs most contemporary brands marketing strategies. According to a 2018 study by Vices branding arm, Virtue, 54% of millennials say they were hungry to spend their money on brands that enhance(d) their spirit and soul. Seventy-seven percent say they sought out brands that shared their values.

For progressives, these brands have in recent years included the razor company Gillette, whose recent high-profile commercial campaigns have included one titled Be the Best a Man Can Be which encouraged men to call each other out on their behavior and another that featured a father helping his transgender son shave for the first time. (Less successfully, brands like Pepsi have made headlines with a spectacularly ill-advised Black Lives Matter themed advertisement starring Kendall Jenner.)

But for Christian conservatives, there was both Chick-fil-A and Christian craft chain Hobby Lobby, which spearheaded a Supreme Court case over its denying coverage of contraceptives to its employees on religious grounds.

Both progressive and conservative brands, however, fundamentally prop up the same hyper-capitalist ideology: one that envisions the spending of money as inextricable from affirmations of ones values.

In the absence of moral communities held together by more concrete ties blood, neighborhood, church we can buy our way into looser ones, feeling that were participating in a movement simply by purchasing its physical representation.

But as Chick-fil-As reversal reminds us, these corporate allegiances are less moral charges than they are carefully calculated business decisions. In this case, are Christian conservatives more or less desirable, as a consumer demographic, than online social justice advocates? Is the LGBT community a better fan base to market to than, say, Republican soccer moms?

As our spending habits and our ideologies become ever more entwined, more and more companies will make calculations about which values they want to advertise and to whom. Our values, to these companies, regardless of their political affiliation, lie in the extent to which we can be reduced to a moral and ethical tribe and effectively sold things to solidify our membership in them. In buying our values, we become little more than these companies marks.

To reduce Chick-fil-A to caving to political correctness, therefore, is to overlook the way in which the entire system of capitalist value-consumption, from woke capitalism to the branding of MAGA hats, is inexorably wedded to the profit margin.

Ideologies have become things for us to buy and sell. We should expect that the people selling them to us treat them and us as products.

(The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

READ THIS STORY AT RELIGIONNEWS.COM.

Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy:RNS/John L. Reed/Creative Commons

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As the Chick-fil-A Flap Shows, the Brands We Buy Are Increasingly a Values Proposition - Christianheadlines.com

Hockey Canada’s decision to change minor hockey division names was overdue and is for the better – The Hockey News

News

When Hockey Canada's renamed minor hockey divisions come into effect next season, it will not only eliminate confusion, but will make the game more inclusive by eliminating some offensive terminology.

Shannon Coady is a little person who has been involved in hockey in Newfoundland for almost every one of his 42 years. When he was forced to quit playing hockey at the age of 14 because the local association and his parents wouldnt allow it, he became a stick boy for the AHLs St. Johns Maple Leafs after winning a contest in the local newspaper. During his interview when he was told to grab a pair of shin pads off the top of a players stall, he jumped on the seat and grabbed them. The team called and offered him a job the next day.

Coady went on to work his way up to assistant equipment manager with the Baby Leafs, and came to Toronto to work a couple of playoff rounds. He held the same posts with the QMJHLs St. Johns Fog Devils and later the AHLs St. Johns IceCaps when the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens had their affiliate there.

The 1991-92 Baby Leafs, coached by Marc Crawford and with a playing assistant coach by the name of Joel Quenneville, had a couple of Francophone and European players who couldnt pronounce his name properly, so they just used Shaq, in deference to 7-foot-1 Shaquille ONeal, who was in his final year at the Louisiana State University en route to a Hall of Fame career in the NBA. The nickname stuck and people still refer to Coady by that name. It never bothered him. In fact, for a couple of years he even operated his own business called Shaqs Skate Sharpening.

You may have heard earlier this week that Hockey Canada has changed the names of its divisions to reflect age groupings, starting with Under-7 and going right up to Under-21. You may have also heard some of the chatter, likely from some of the same people who think Redskins is an acceptable thing to label someone, that as a society weve become a bunch of easily offended snowflakes obsessed with political correctness. (One thing that has always intrigued: The fact that when people criticize that term, they always seem to focus on the political part and never the correct part.)

Coady never got too worked up that one of the divisions was referred to as Midget, even though that word has become taboo in society. In fact, its pretty much the equivalent of the N word for those with achondroplasia, or dwarfism. But it never quite sat right with him. I never liked it, Coady said. Im 42 and its been around for as long as I can remember. As I got older, I dont have a word for itI just didnt think it was right. And I dont think it would ever fly in different sports.

As much as anyone, Coady realizes its the name of an age division in hockey and those who have used it have nothing against him and there is no intention to offend anyone. But words do matter and when you accept them you tacitly accept the negative connotation that comes with them and the power imbalance it creates. But more than anything, the name changes to reflect the age of players just makes sense on so many levels. Its the way the rest of the world has gone when it comes to hockey and its about time Canada followed suit.

When it comes down to it, none of the names of minor hockeys divisions makes sense. Do you have any idea what a Bantam really is? Its a small, aggressive chicken. What on Earth does that have to do with teenaged hockey players? Do you know where the word tyke originates? It comes from an old Norse term for a female dog and was later used in Middle English to describe a lazy man. Again, not a lot of parallels to young hockey players. Atom, Squirt, Peewee not sure who came up with these names all those years ago, but there seems to be a real obsession with lack of size here.

Good on Hockey Canada for refusing to remain stuck in the past. The age changes come into effect for next season and it will take a while for them to stick. For example, the world-famous Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament has no intention of changing its name, which is fine. But if, as a national governing body, you can eliminate confusion and make the game more inclusive at the same time, all the better.

Want more in-depth features, analysis and an All-Access pass to the latest content?Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

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Hockey Canada's decision to change minor hockey division names was overdue and is for the better - The Hockey News

The Particular Discomfort Neurodivergents Have with Speech Codes – Merion West

The patterns of behavior that characterize a broad part of the autistic spectrum are indirectly viewed as a hindrance towards the 21st-century diversity and inclusion goals.

Introduction

In April of 2017, Arizona State political science professor Will H. Moore took his own life. In the suicide note that he had scheduled to be published around the time of his death, Moore describes how his high-functioning autism obstructed his social relations, as well as his ability to produce and publish his work. Moore describes having reached this juncture after he was reprimandedin a certain wayfor regularly stating his opinions in a manner that unintentionally offended those around him. Being censored, silenced, ostracized or just plain bullied by peers for expressing a set of facts isnt unfamiliar in any way. Douglas Murray describes this phenomenon in his recently published book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, where he comments on the cancel culture of the 21st century, as well as the discontinuation of the exploration, discovery and dissemination of truth on university campuses.

A few months after Moores death, four to be exact, another individual with high-functioning autism was punishedthis time for distributing a memo. A former Google engineer named James Damore put out Googles Ideological Echo Chamber for discussion within the company. Unfortunately, on the 5th of August, the memo was released to the public, and Damore was fired shortly thereafter. Damore had created a comprehensive internal study about the gender gap within software engineering. By making use of psychological characteristicsmore widely known as the Big Five personality traitsDamore laid out the differences between the sexes, why this can affect the career choices men and women respectively make, and the gender gap that can result from these differences. Joshua Trebuchon (reasonably) noted in his August, 2017 Merion West piece on the issue that the memo was not without its flaws. As such, Trebuchon discusses the typical minimalist argument on personality difference and suggests that regardless of Damores use of well-established psychological traits and differences, the way that he uses these differences to argue against affirmative action severely exaggerates their significance.

Being socially awkward and not having a way with words myself positions me as a natural target for rebuke, much like Damore. The arguments put forward by autistic people (at least, those people with autism that are in such a position where they can share their perspective), usually, are based on empirical findingsand not on abstract assumptions about how one perceives (or ought to perceive) the world. The Google Memo by Damore, for instance, is based on findings concerning psychological and personality traits that have been in use since the 1960s.

The reality that people with autism tend to be more focused on facts does not imply that they cannot lie, but it is much more demanding for them to consciously construct a falsification of their perspective. This, for instance, is why Moore described in his suicide note how it physically hurt him to tell a white lie. Immanuel Kant would be rather pleased by the difficulty of people with autism to deceive. But, on the contrary, Kant would be less satisfied with the proposition that we, as a society, have seemingly abandoned our desire for truth and rationality. The disgust that is shown from certain neurotypicals towards those who utter a specific set of facts appears to be displayed without rational thought. In what follows, I would like to address the underlying mechanismsor rather the absence of those mechanisms that explain the inability of neurodivergents to follow certain speech codes that are related to the political correctness movement(s).

Autistic Perception

My view on (and experience with) high-functioning autism can be read at-length here, but some of those points may be worth laying out again. Among those points is the notion thatas far as I am concernedwe should not give preference to someones arguments, ideas, or opinions just because they play the auti-card. NeitherGreta Thunberg nor Albert Einstein should get any special treatment (regarding their statements) because of their condition. Ones agreement (or disagreement) with their perspectives should not be created out of sympathy for their conditionbut rather from the empirical or logical strength of their ideas.

I do state this a tad lightly because I am well aware of the various forms of autismand how they affect the lives of those with autism, as well as the people around them. Let me make clear, then, that if I use the term autistic, I am typically referring to high-functioning autistic individuals. That is not to say that it is straightforward who falls in the category of high-functioning and who does not, but this is, in part, because of the highly variable nature of the autism spectrum.

The fact that it can be difficult for neurotypicals to relate to the perspectives often held by neurodivergents makes it not only hard for people with autism to be understood, but this can also give rise to paradoxical tensions regarding the inclusivity of every possible (minority) group. This occurs when the conditions by which a group can indicate that it is being included are incompatible with the conditions related to a different group. It implies that conflict between groups wont be off the table when suddenly everyone is put in the same room. Being fixated on facts could lead, for instance, to someone with autism stating the obvious differences between the sexes, which carries the possibility of accidentally offending others.

Its not as if people with autism are typically elected class president each year or voted to be the most popular kid in school. Because of people with autismslets call them distinctive characteristics, neurotypicals often refrain from approaching neurodivergents. You could, then, say, Whats to lose right? However, both the suicide rate of adolescents with autism and the suicide rates of adults with autism would make it rather difficult to pass off the social issues of people with autism as insignificant. The lack of social communication is highly correlated with the suicide of people with autism.

Is there a clear solution to the conflict concerning the value of free speech and the potential for offensive speech (which can emerge when free speech is protected) to offend other minorities groups? Should the risk of neurodivergents offending other minority groups (e.g. racial, ethnic, sexual and gender) mean that we should shut down those who express potentially upsetting facts? Or, alternatively, without any censorship taking place, perhaps we could teach people how to handle a fixed set of information and the rules that accompany interpreting certain information.

Unsafe Speech

Not only neurodivergents now experience complications with verbal expression. The recent events surrounding journalism students made for another example. At Northwestern University, students were protesting former United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions appearance on campus. The journalism students tried to cover this protest by taking photographs of the student protesters, who were confronted by police when they were attempting to force themselves into the building. The photos that resulted from the protest, which depicted student protesters falling on the ground, eventually produced an apology from the editors of the campus newspaper, The Daily Northwestern, for having reported on the protest. At the heart of the conflict was that the journalism students were, responding to the changing expectations of the students they cover, particularly from those on the political left, while upholding widely accepted standards of journalism. While the latter will eventually result in the potential to cause offense, the former still suggests that most of the students are empathetic towards those who identify with a minority group. Meanwhile, the struggle with neurodivergents often rests on the assumption that their speech is intentional, without any knowledge about the hidden mechanisms that cause it.

We are well aware that telling the perceived truth does not always carry with it a positive effect. If I were to tell a person that he has acne on his face, he likely wouldnt be too pleased with that statement, regardless of its truth. But the unpleasantness that a particular truth carries with it should not imply that we ought to abandon saying it. Geoffrey Miller, for example, notes the impact of censorship in his July, 2018 Quillette article, where he outlines the effect speech codes have on neurominorities:

It [censorship] discriminates against neurominorities. It imposes a chilling effect on unusual brains that house unusual minds. It marginalizes people who may have great ideas, but who also happen to have mental disorders, personality quirks, eccentric beliefs, or unusual communication styles that make it hard for them to understand and follow the current speech norms that govern what is acceptable..

Being ostracized from a group for such a reason as the use of factual language seems ridiculous. The main cause of the isolation many people with autism have from others is related to the inadequacy of the cognitive theory called Theory of Mind, often referred to by its acronym T.O.M. T.O.M is the ability to put yourself in someone elses shoes and assume his or her perspective. As such, the concept is frequently associated with empathy. Oftentimes, people with a form of autism lack this abilityand because of this, they generally experience difficulties forming (social) relationships. Steven Pinker describes T.O.M in his 2002 book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by referring to it as, one of the brains most striking abilities. Besides the predictability function of T.O.M, Pinker sees this cognitive theory as something greater than the ability to empathize with others: Our theory of mind is the source of the concept of the soul. The ghost in the machine [meaning, the mind carried in the body] is deeply rooted in our way of thinking about people.

The inability to assume another persons perspective makes it problematic for many with autism to even start a friendship, let alone maintain it. Maintaining such a relationship requires one to be aware both of what can be the compassionate thing to sayand also what can be the hurtful thing to say. Without these general skills, people with autism will, without a doubt, struggle immensely in the body of a social creature. Miller, for instance, suggests that, Aspies [people with Aspergers syndrome] simply dont have brains that can anticipate what might be considered offensive, disrespectful, unwanted, or outrageous by others. This should not be seen as an excuse for autistic people purposely to offend others, but many who lack T.O.M. would agree that its shortage has a substantial negative effect on their social interactions.

The Complexity of the Meta-Interest

Many who have a form of autism hold a profound obsession with a certain subject, interest, or object. Part of the reason for this is to subconsciously narrow the possibility of encountering an anxiety-provoking situation. Their fixation on their interest gives them the predictability that they desire in an uncertain world. They hold what I would call a meta-interest: an incredibly strong obsession with a particular subject, much like an infatuation of the long term. It has to be made clear that a meta-interest and conscientiousness are not related. This signifies that whether or not their meta-interest is linked with their occupation or study, the intensity that they have with the former wont be necessarily comparable to the latter. Apart from the intensity of the interest, the fact-, object-, and sensory-oriented interests are greater in HF-ASD [High-functioning ASD]. This is in contrast to neurotypicals, who are more likely to be interested in say sports or televisionand more likely to be socially-oriented.

A meta-interest is expressed on different occasionsand is expressed without making any exclusions as to whom someone with autism enthusiastically reveals their interest. People with autism dont consider if the recipient of the information would view the subject of their interest with the same passion as the owner of the meta-interest. Pinker acknowledges the struggle that autistic people experience when making connections with other social beings:

A mind unequipped to discern other peoples beliefs and intentions, even if it can learn in other ways, is incapable of the kind of learning that perpetuates culture. People with autism suffer from an impairment of this kind. They can grasp physical representations like maps and diagrams but cannot grasp mental representationsthat is, they cannot read other peoples minds.

Its practically unthinkable for many who are not on the spectrum to fathom the idea of a meta-interestor the extreme difficulty people with autism have in establishing interpersonal relationships. As far as Ive been told, relating to the concept of the meta-interest can be confusing for someone outside the spectrum because it gets associated with the hypothetical cognitive energy someone would have to put in to obtain a similar set of facts and knowledge about a certain subject.

The patterns of behavior that characterize a broad part of the autistic spectrum are indirectly viewed as a hindrance towards the 21st-century diversity and inclusion goals. We have reached the point that certain knowledge is forbidden to ever see the light of day. Murray addresses this anxious feeling that can accompany discussing nearly any subject of import in public:

To speak in public is now to have to find a way to address or at least keep in mind every possible variety of person, with every imaginable kind of claimincluding every imaginable rights claim. At any moment we might be asked why we have forgotten, undermined, offended or denied the existence of a particular person and others like them. It is understandable that the generations now growing up in these hyper-connected societies worry about what they say and expect other people to be equally worried.

Participating in these conflicts whereby you indirectly (and unintentionally) offend someone can be confusing, and, for many, it can be genuinely exhausting. To avoid such a situation, people might reach the conclusion that it is just better to self-censor rather than seek to confront ideas of substance.

Conclusion

But we havent completely lost the road to rationality. Steven Pinker wrote an article in June, 2019 for Skeptic Magazine entitled Why We Are Not Living in a Post-Truth Era. In this essay, he states that our innate rationality hasnt left us. Pinker argues that even by making the claim that humans are irrational beings, there would have to be certain criteria by which we judge rationality. This standard alone would make the irrationality claim rather weak. Like was stated earlier, truth and facts are not always valued enough. For Pinker, this is also one of the reasons why we make use of irrationality:

We all try to come across as infallible, omniscient, and saintly. Rationality can be a nuisance in this campaign, because inconvenient truths will inevitably come to light that suggest we are mere mortals. The dismissal of facts and logic is often damage control against threats to our self-presentation.

These defense mechanisms can be convenient to protect yourself, but they are less helpful to the overall picture regarding progress and truth-finding. This leaves everyone with a question. What do you value more? Your victimhood or intellectual progress? Bret Weinstein argued on Joe Rogans podcast that rather than adhere to the postmodern viewpoint by dismissing the scientific toolkit, we should equip everyone with the means to figure out what is true and what isnt.

Besides, when it comes to appreciating the difference between unintentional and intentional offensive speech, in my view, a part of the solution lies in understandingmeta-interest as a viable concept. This means that to understand someones actions in a particular situation, we should put effort into appreciating the underlying mechanisms that motivate those actionsbecause its not always the case that the ones who utter these messages are driven by some elixir of tyranny:hatred and malevolence.

Lastly, the autism spectrumand the disorders that comprise ithave been (as far as I know) part of the DIE-religion (Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity) since the start. This is hardly surprisingly. As I have suggested earlier, people with autism usually arent scurrying to social media and meet-up groups to form friendships. So exclusion from the normal group actually seems like the way into this movement. Unfortunately, for people with autism, however, their membership in the population with everyone else poses the constant risk of their cancellation, particularly when the political correctness movement continues its fixation on creating speech codes in public settings, such as universities. Regardless of the sincere intentions of the political correctness movement, its effects do not always bring about the expected outcomes its proponents may have hoped for. After all, a world where people simultaneously never get offended but have access to free speech is, after all, an unreachable utopia.

Alessandro van den Berg is an economics teacher in the Netherlands.

Continued here:

The Particular Discomfort Neurodivergents Have with Speech Codes - Merion West

Local and vocal: What does Wexford think of Verona Murphy? – The Irish Times

Large new campaign signs for Verona Murphy have been posted on the grass verges on the approaches to New Ross and Wexford town.

Shes Local & Vocal, the sign reads, with the letter V engulfed in flames.

But if this strikes any passing motorists as a metaphor for the state of her campaign in the Wexford byelection, few people locally seem to take the view that she has been damaged by recent controversies.

Those erupted after Murphy said Islamic State was a big part of the immigrant population, that children as young as three or four may have been manipulated by the terror group and that some asylum seekers might need to be reprogrammed.

Separately, details of an employee relations dispute within the Irish Road Haulage Association, of which she is president, surfaced during the week.

In an interview with South East radio on Thursday, Murphy apologised for the comments on immigration and expressed an understanding of the offence and hurt that I have caused.

Former Fine Gael councillor Willie Fitzharris, who campaigned with Murphy last weekend, does not think her comments will damage her attempt to win the seat vacated by Mick Wallaces election as an MEP.

Shes a good candidate who shoots from the hip, and thats what has landed her in trouble, but thats also what makes her who she is, Fitzharris says. There wouldnt be a bad streak in her. She maybe wasnt wise to word it like she did.

Another Fine Gael source in the area, speaking off the record, says the view within the party locally is that Murphy hasnt been damaged so far by the controversy.

The amount of publicity, shes getting on every radio station, in all the newspapers, Ministers talking about her in the Dil where before has a candidate in a local election been able to get that kind of publicity? 100,000 wouldnt buy you that publicity.

Among those in the haulage industry in Wexford, which employs 4,000 people, Murphy appears to be admired as someone who gets things done. She is given credit for a reduction in road tax for hauliers in October 2015 from around 5,000 to 500-900.

She was very instrumental in the taxation on HGVs being reduced. I think she would have the support of the logistics industry, which is very prominent across south Wexford, says TJ Crosbie, managing director of Autocar Logistics, which is based in New Ross.

Few in Wexford appear to share the view expressed by Fianna Fil leader Michel Martin that Murphy was playing the race card.

Some in the industry suggest the comments were informed by her role in the haulage association, and her perception of the risks faced by truckers coming through ports like Cherbourg rather than general negativity towards migrants.

There was very little talk on Thursday about the employee relations issue that surfaced in that days papers; instead, people were more likely to mention the 16 migrants found in the back of a lorry on a ferry that arrived at Rosslare Europort from France.

Its a big worry for the industry, says one truck driver, who didnt want to be named. They walk out in front of you on the motorway so youll have to slow down. Theyre going around with battery-operated hand grinders to try and open the back of the truck. There wouldnt be much sympathy for them within the industry.

He believes that could have been on Veronas mind when she made her comments.

Murphys home village of Ramsgrange consists of a few houses, a large church, a daycare and family resource centre, as well as a shop, hair salon, pubs and a takeaway, all clustered around a crossroads.

In the Sportsmans Inn, a man who gives his name as Michael says Murphy has brains. Shes educated. She gets things done. She was only being truthful in what she said ... She could have worded it better, and Im sure shes sorry about that now. But shes not racist, by no means.

He points to a news headline on his phone about the 16 found on their way to Rosslare. Shes in the lorry business. Shes had to speak up for drivers. She doesnt deserve the flak shes getting.

Outside Floods shop, which is within sight of the house Murphy grew up in, not everyone has heard of her, and only a handful are aware of the controversy. But those who have are supportive of the local woman.

Verona Murphys not guilty of anything only speaking her mind, says Paddy Meyler, who has known her all her life. Verona Murphy is sound as a pound. She doesnt hang around. Shes not one who ever got anything from anyone else. Anything she has, she earned herself.

Those who know Murphy personally in the area cite her resilience and capability. They talk about how she left home at 14, dropped out of school at 15 and became a single parent to her daughter, Robyn, at 22.

A recent interview in the New Ross Standard describes her long estrangement from her family, and a period spent in homelessness before she bought her first truck aged 21, and her second a few years later. She was still in her 20s when she launched Verona Murphy Transport, which later amalgamated with another company. In her 30s she went back to do her Leaving Cert before doing a law degree.

Farther afield in Wexford town, most shrug off Murphys comments on immigration, and only a minority say they disagree. One of those is John Aldrich, a former professor of zoology at Trinity College Dublin, who has always voted Fine Gael but now says he would be more inclined to vote Green.

I didnt think what she said is appropriate at all, he said. Its nonsensical.

Deborah Doyle, who is working in Readers Paradise bookshop on Selskar Street, had never heard of Murphy before she saw a story on Facebook about the immigration comments. She was appalled.

What would a person be thinking saying that? Thats like a Trumpism. God help families that are just trying to have a better life.

A two-minute walk away, in Rainbow Wholefoods on North Main Street, owner John Linden didnt know a lot about Murphy either until recently, but he believes her comments have been blown up by the media.

Theres a lot of political correctness around migrants. I know theyve been through tough times, and weve got to remember that, but this political correctness around them makes me sick.

Does he make a distinction between political correctness, and the correction of false statements, such as the ones about Isis targeting three-year-olds? Well, you could be right. But, he adds, people are more offended by this whole politically correct landscape. He has, he says, considered changing the name of the store to Politically Incorrect Wholefoods. He still wont vote for her, though, as hed prefer to support a candidate outside the mainstream.

Nigel Hamilton is behind the counter of his shop, WR Hamilton & Son, which sells everything from carbolic soap to penknives.

I wasnt going to vote for her because of comments she made about farmers not being allowed to use the motorway, he says.

As president of the IRHA, Murphy campaigned to have tractor drivers removed from the motorway. But since learning more about her, he has decided to give her his No 2, after Jim Codd of Aont.

I myself left school at 14, so I know what its like to work your way up. Id have to admire her for that.

Hamiltons only objection to Murphys comments about migrants is that she apologised for them.

If we go down the road where someone says what they think, and then apologises for it, are we going to end up in a situation where people are afraid to tell the truth and say what they really think?

There is, he believes, a cohort of people locally who would share her views.

And theyre often the people on the ground with experience of it. Their view, and the view of someone in a big house in Dublin, would be completely different.

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Local and vocal: What does Wexford think of Verona Murphy? - The Irish Times

Letters to The Province, Nov. 25, 2019: There is a lack of empathy from both sides of the Don Cherry conversation – The Province

2010: Don Cherry and Ron MacLean of Hockey Night in Canada walk to centre ice in Dundas, Ontario.Dave Sandford / NHLI via Getty Images

Im responding to Norman Ostonals letter Folks will be missing loud Cherry in his loud suits.

Ostonal claims that Don Cherry ought to have been just ignored and allowed to stay, and the so-called offence let slide. Although I agree Cherry should not have lost his job for his remarks, he needs to be held accountable. Ostonal claims that it was Cherrys opinion to support his claim that the whole thing should have been ignored. The problem with this is that even if Cherrys opinion were true in his assumptions, it does not mean that Cherry is free from the consequences of his remarks.

Cherrys words carried significant weight for many people, and although he is free to express his opinion, it does not change the fact that he hurt a lot of people in the process. Ostonal goes on to say that there are many reasons why people, without meaning any disrespect toward veterans, dont bother wearing poppies. However, Cherry is old school and sees things differently, and the implication is made that he should be let off the hook. This is merely an excuse for his actions and an irrelevant reason for justification. As a public figure, he ought to know better, even if he is old school. Ostonal implies further that Cherry should be let off because people know what kind of a person Cherry is and anyone who has seen Cherry should know that he doesnt care what people think of him. This, again, is only an excuse for Cherrys words and an irrelevant reason for justification. Even if Cherry did care what people thought of him, it wouldnt change the nature of what he said.

Cherrys comments and his subsequent firing shed light on a much larger issue of polarization in Canada. The two-sided dialogue about whether Cherry was rightfully sentenced for his social justice crime or wrongfully chastised by the big scary political correctness monster shows how much we lack the ability to have tough conversations.

There is a lack of empathy from both sides of the conversation. It needs to be recognized that Cherrys words were divisive and hurtful to many Canadians, but it also needs to be recognized that well never reach a solution by burning people at the stake for their mistakes. With our recent federal election, it wasnt long ago that our prime minister was facing backlash for his mistakes of blackface. Like Cherry, it needed to be recognized what Justin Trudeau did was wrong, but it was also appropriate that he was not (relatively speaking) crucified for his mistakes. The dialogue about Cherry mirrors so many other political conversations, with two sides unable to hear the other. It is only with empathy that such tensions can be resolved. If in Canadas efforts to embrace diversity we become more divided, what strength is there in such diversity? The strength is not absent in diversity, but it is mute if we allow our immaturity to prevail in our conversations as a society.

Reece Doppenberg, Aldergrove

Further to the letter on private health care, I had a similar experience. I know that seniors go to the bottom of the list. I hope the Supreme Court, if it decides against private health care, that it adds a caveat that politicians will no longer get special treatment and go to the bottom of the list with us.

Jim Briden, Peachland

Letters to the editor should be sent to provletters@theprovince.com.

CLICK HEREto report a typo.

Is there more to this story? Wed like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Emailvantips@postmedia.com.

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Letters to The Province, Nov. 25, 2019: There is a lack of empathy from both sides of the Don Cherry conversation - The Province

Jacques: Oakland County swings harder to the left – The Detroit News

Democrats are now calling the shots in Oakland County, and things are starting to look different in this former Republican stronghold.

Case in point: The Oakland County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday, andone of the first items of businessis adoption of a non-discrimination policy that will apply to all county employees as well as any entity that contracts or subcontracts with the county.

The official "Pope of Pride" Gordon Matson, 58, of Oak Park walks down Nine Mile Road at the Ferndale Pride Festival in Ferndale, MI on June 2, 2018.(Photo: Anthony Lanzilote, Special to The Detroit News)

Some Republicans are concerned that it goes too far.

Democrats this year took control of the county board, 11-10, for the first time in 40 years, and longtime Republican County Executive L. Brooks Patterson died in August after a quarter century in that role. The commission replaced him with former Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter, a Democrat who recently said he will seek a full four year term in 2020.

So its a new day in county government.

The non-discrimination policy, which has already been approved by the boards Legislative Affairs and Government Operations Committee, states that discrimination or harassment will not be tolerated on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, height, weight, disability, veteran status, familial status, marital status and other factors.

Violators face disciplinary action, termination of a contract or dismissal from county employment.

One of the Republican commissioners told me hes very concerned that the county is overreaching with this policy, in that it would ultimately apply to all villages, cities and townships that contract with the county in addition to many entities outside the government.

By including vague language such as gender expression, this moves the county into territory that goes beyond whats required in state and federal law.

And the policy would allow the county to choose contractors for reasons other than performance and cost potentially placing a higher value on political correctness than fiscal interests.

Such language is becoming pretty standard fare for cities around Michigan dozens of local governments have adopted human rights protections that apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. And Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a directive early this year extending these rights to state employees.

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter makes announcement that he will run for the full term of Oakland County Executive next year during a press conference at Brass Aluminum Forging Enterprise in Ferndale on October 31, 2019.(Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr., The Detroit News)

Yet there isnt consensus on offering these legal protections. The state Legislature still hasnt expanded the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include those groups, although the states Civil Rights Commission has spurned lawmakers by investigating claims of discrimination against those individuals anyway. Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel has given the commission the green light to continue its work.

Coulter, in an interview with our editorial board in September, said hes committed to maintaining Oakland Countys enviable business climate and AAA bond rating, while also working toward ensuring the county is perceived as a place that is welcoming and safe and supportive of everyone.

To that end, the county is crafting a new chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer position, which will go before the board next month. That officer, if approved, would make sure the county workforce more closely mirrors the population as a whole.

Bill Mullan, a spokesman for Coulter, says the executive worked closely with the board on the non-discrimination policy, and that most companies already have a corporate policy on file, and we are catching up to these established standards. The county doesnt expect a financial impact oncompanies it works with or on its ownoperations.

You can be both a progressive community that advocates for social issues, but also be mindful of the budget, and respect your business sector, Coulter said.

Now its up to this new crop of Oakland County officials to prove thats true.

ijacques@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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Jacques: Oakland County swings harder to the left - The Detroit News

Letter: Patrick A. Fayle: Kaepernick takes political correctness to new heights of absurdity – The Providence Journal

MondayNov18,2019at5:54PMNov18,2019at5:54PM

The "face" of Nike's "Just Do It" program is now ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who inaugurated the practice of kneeling during the National Anthem. One Providence Journal reader referred to Kaepernick's action as a "sign of prayerful respect," though Kaepernick said he took a knee to give voice "to the people that are being oppressed."

Recently, Nike launched a new sneaker line with a logo of the so-called Betsy Ross flag, which consisted of 13 stars and 13 red and white stripes, symbolizing the original 13 colonies and states. Kaepernick said the use of the flag offended him because he considered it a symbol of slavery. Yet, the flag of post-slavery America has also had 13 red and white stripes.

It is hard to fathom how one individual in a nation of 330 million can end the rollout of a new product. This is taking political correctness to its absurd conclusion, which seems de rigueur these days. This is why the Rev. Bill Owens, head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, has urged Nike to terminate its relationship with him.

Patrick A. Fayle, East Greenwich

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Letter: Patrick A. Fayle: Kaepernick takes political correctness to new heights of absurdity - The Providence Journal


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